herald

Sunday 17 December 2017

Trimble rallies Irish to hit Italy with blood-boiling intensity so easily conjured for English

ANDREW TRIMBLE is the quiet one. You expect total respect and simple honesty. You always get it too. It is a rare commodity in a world driven by superficial image.

What you don't expect is the emphatic admission that England boil the blood in a way that other countries don't seem to do. It explains Ireland's unbelievable record against the Red Rose.

"I remember playing England last year. That was the perfect example of that level of intensity that is required. It is important that we get to produce that every time we go out on the pitch," voiced Trimble.

"It is really, really important that - whatever that is - that it is there this weekend. That intensity should be there no matter what. When you play England, it just comes. It happens naturally."

This explains Ireland's incredible record against the 'auld enemy'. They haven't lost at home to England in the Six Nations since that Grand Slam decider in 2003.

Since then, Ireland have scalped the English at Lansdowne Road, Croke Park and The Aviva Stadium four times and taken the honours three out of four times at Twickenham. This gives credence to Trimble's assertion.

"Whenever you put on a green shirt, it should be there naturally anyway. Hopefully, it will be there this weekend."

The secret is out. The very special Irish brand of total intensity is not a given. It is there sometimes. It is not the constant bedfellow it should be.

Worryingly, Trimble has not been able to bottle the magical psychological potion that guarantees to turn best practice into best performance.

"Traditionally, we are slow to start. It is difficult to know what the reason for that is. I just know from playing against Wales that something wasn't just there," he said.

There is frustration too. The postponement of the France match and all that went with it meant one simple fact for the players. They had to wait another week to purge the Wales defeat.

"Frustration develops a little bit throughout the last few weeks. That has been difficult to deal with. Hopefully, it will be a positive thing, the frustration building to create a desperation in the squad to go out and make sure we put that right," he said.

"Against Wales that desperation wasn't quite there. There were half-a-dozen examples you could take that summed up where they were and where we were. It is just important we get that right.

"We played poorly against them. Our physicality, our intensity, our quickness in how we reacted to things just wasn't quite there."

Trimble agrees with Rob Kearney's statement that it is not physical, it is mental. The attitude has to be there.



Mindset

"I think it is just mindset. It is not something you need to go out on the pitch and repeat 10 times to get right. You just get your heads on and get everyone on the same page.

"It is very easy to correct. It is just not a lot of teams, not every team has it. Whenever it is there you can see it. Everyone can see when that intensity is there. That's when teams are scared to live with us. They can't keep up. Physically, they can't compete with us. We need to have that."

While Ireland have not been able to deal with Wales in the past four months, Trimble has been in flying form for club and country and has been relieved to be away from Ulster at what he terms "a complicated time" for the club.

"I have my Ireland head on. I enjoy having one thing to think of. I absolutely love getting the opportunities that come along. It is important to transfer that confidence that I feel," he said.

"I have been enjoying my rugby with Ulster and Ireland. I just want to take these opportunities because you may not get that many of them."

It is the way of professional sport that you have to look back and review before you can move on and preview. The ghost of Welsh memories just past must be banished.

"We still should have won that game. I don't think there is a problem with our confidence. If we can raise our level of performance up to where it should be then the teams we play in the Six Nations won't be able to deal with us," added Trimble. "We have worked hard to put it right, get our mindsets right."

It could have been alright on a Paris night. It will have to be right at The Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

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