Andrew Trimble is hoping being on the same page as head coach Joe Schmidt will help keep him in the Ireland team to face Wales on Saturday, but the wing is not taking anything for granted.
Having been overlooked by Schmidt during the November internationals, Ulster star Trimble made a big impact on his return to the national side last weekend, grabbing his opportunity in the absence of the injured Luke Fitzgerald and Tommy Bowe to score Ireland’s opening try of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations campaign as the men in green recorded a 28-6 victory over Scotland.
Trimble, 29, was making just his third Test appearance since the ill-fated 2012 summer tour to New Zealand and gave Schmidt plenty to think about as he assesses his selection options ahead of the defending champions’ visit to the Aviva Stadium.
Now the Ulsterman is keeping his fingers crossed that Schmidt’s famously forensic rugby eye will lead to a long-awaited, continued run in the team.
“A lot of the things that I model my game on... just the small details, working hard, consistency, just even leg drive, line speed, defence, all these little things that I value and Joe values quite a bit,” Trimble said.
“I’m approaching this season quite positively. Whenever things don’t work out for Ireland, I go back to Ulster and I love that as well. It works well both ways for me.”
Trimble’s last three Ireland games have come under different head coaches. Declan Kidney last picked him in November 2012, interim boss Les Kiss awarded him his 50th cap during last summer’s tour to North America, when he scored a try in the victory over Canada, before Schmidt started him at the weekend, rewarding his fine form for Ulster in the Heineken Cup this season by placing the wing in a back three with Dave and Rob Kearney.
“I didn’t expect to be selected for this game,” he admitted. “Every time there’s a team being read out and I’m in the mix, I always hope that I will but I didn’t really expect it. I was delighted. It was a big opportunity for me and I just wanted to make sure that I worked hard and got into the game and made an impact. So I was happy enough with the way things went.”
Staying in the team is the next hurdle.
Trimble is acutely aware of the impending returns of Fitzgerald and Bowe as well as the presence on the bench of Fergus McFadden, as well as Simon Zebo and Craig Gilroy on the outside looking in.
“There’s always going to be massive competition for places. But I feel that will push the likes of me, Dave and Ferg on to improve our performances and stick in there. I’m not going to try and second-guess Joe. I’m not going to pre-empt what he’s going to do. Once you get an opportunity it just makes me more hungry for it, so certainly I’ll be doing everything I can to get in there.”
There was more to Trimble’s performance than his 39th-minute try and he laughed off suggestions that he had been a casual observer of the game up to that point.
“First touch, try!” he joked. “There was so much work to do out there, it was really hard going.
“It’s very physical. [Scotland fly-half] Duncan Weir probes his corners so you just have to make sure to work hard and cover that up.
“It’s very, very difficult. There’s a lot of work to do for a winger out there. I just wanted to keep doing that, keep doing the little things.
“Sometimes the ball comes your way, sometimes it doesn’t. In the first half, it didn’t and then, in the end, I got over. I’m happy enough. I just want to keep working hard and see what happens.”
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