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trimble's tough Love for joe

The belief in Joe Schmidt is best reflected in Andrew Trimble's rise out of relative obscurity to become Ireland's 2014 Players of the Year.

It was reinforced last night when Trimble, currently out injured, also picked up the Rugby Writers of Ireland Player of the Year.

The total absorption into Schmidt's way requires a slavish mentality from the players that takes a heavy investment of time and application.

The Ulsterman was able to acknowledge that personal and collective success for Ireland has meant sacrifice in what can be a "miserable" place to be.

"He's always looking for you to improve your performances and that's something I've taken a lot from," he said.

"Just put myself under pressure a lot and I've learned a lot from Joe and the environment he's created which, as unpleasant an environment as it is at times, it's the environment that gets the best out of me.

"Yeah, it can be miserable. It can be very unpleasant," he said.

There is no hiding place. The all-seeing eye of the camera and the forensic work of video analysts Mervyn Murphy and Vinny Hammond makes everyone accountable for everything they do.

"You have to have a reason (to explain to Joe) when you have mistakes up on the video, even when you're in training you have to think through everything and that's a big emphasis with Joe and that's something I had to react to."

It took Trimble some time to acclimatise to the new regime and how exacting it was last year.

"I know I got a hard time the first couple of weeks in camp and I didn't really enjoy it," said Trimble.

"I thought: 'Is this what's it going to be like? This is a lot of hard work.'

"At that time, I didn't know that you're putting the building blocks in place to win a Six Nations.

"So to win a Six Nations in Paris and feel like I've contributed with my performances makes it unbelievably worthwhile."

It all comes back to the Ireland players falling into line and devoting themselves completely to Schmidt's game plan.

"That just makes me think that when it comes down to most of these things, Joe knows best.

"He seems to know how to get the best out of me, how to get the best out of all the boys really."

In the final year of Declan Kidney's reign, the Ulster wing's international impact was reduced to one appearance against South Africa.

Trimble was beginning to slide down the queue with Tommy Bowe and Simon Zebo out in front and Craig Gilroy coming up on the inside rail.

There was also Fergus McFadden, Luke Fitzgerald and Keith Earls to consider, and what turned out to be the upward curve of Dave Kearney.

The announcement of Schmidt's transfer from Leinster to Ireland was delayed long enough for interim coach Les Kiss to hand Trimble his 50th cap against Canada.

"I know I was winning my 50th cap at the time but I was really out of favour a little bit in the Ireland set-up and I wasn't playing that much," said Trimble.


"Then Joe (Schmidt) came in and obviously all the Leinster boys loved him and rightly so.

"The reputation he had with them was re-enforced with (the rest of) us and I just thought, 'who knows what he's going to be like?'

"I started the season slowly and I kind of got what I deserved when I wasn't involved in the Guinness Series (2013). I wasn't surprised about that.

"That made sense to me because I didn't feel like I was where I wanted to be," he admitted.

"Then, whenever Six Nations came around, I managed to get involved and get a bit of form, so it's completely consistent. That makes me think that I'm not over-analysing things or mis-interpreting my form.

"What I think is generally what Joe thinks, so if I'm happy about where I am then he's going to be happy as well, although Joe being happy probably doesn't happen that much."