Injured Ireland wing Andrew Trimble is progressing quickly along the road to recovery, but the Six Nations opener against Italy will come too soon for the Ulster man.
A toe ligament problem has sidelined Trimble since October, but he is now jogging lightly and is determined to make sure his province overcome recent struggles to finish the Pro12 season on a high.
But Six Nations duty may have to wait. “The start of it will definitely be too soon,” he says. “I can’t imagine I’d be fit enough to make it for then — my first couple of games back will probably be 20 or 30 minutes from the bench. It’ll be difficult. I did a bit of running last week and my toe was fine; the problem was my lungs. To get back to a level of fitness anywhere near match level will take me a while.”
It has been a frustrating time for the 30-year-old. “It’s been tough to watch at times because I watch games with my dad and he has, let’s say, quite strong opinions on rugby.
“I knew straight away at the start that it would take a while to recover and I accepted that early on. I’ve been setting myself various targets and goals on the way back. I’ve been in the gym with the lads and I have been involved with the pre-match preparations and teams meetings as much as I can, just trying to remember how to play rugby when I get the chance.”
Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding and Louis Ludik are the latest to fall foul of the province’s injury curse, but Trimble insists spirits remain high within the setup.
“The atmosphere is okay. We’ve showed glimpses of decent rugby. The first 50 against Leinster, the first half against Treviso, we scored four tries against Toulon despite the heavy defeat — there are positives.
“We’re more than capable of turning things around. We’re in touching distance of the play-offs in the league, we’re in a good position with four or five winnable games coming up in the league.”
He even tries to sweeten the sour taste lingering from Saturday’s hammering by Toulon. “That defeat was nothing to be proud of but we can take positives. We showed a bit of character in the end even though we were disappointed. They are one of the favourites. It’s a shame they have a fortune to spend but at home they are an absolute handful. Unlike ourselves, it doesn’t matter if they have a pile of injuries because their squad is big enough to bring big names in.”
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