Irish international winger, Andrew Trimble, will set a new Ulster Rugby record in Europe on Friday when he becomes the club’s most capped player in the Heineken Cup.
Trimble will make his 58th appearance for Ulster in the Pool Five match against Montpellier at Ravenhill (kick-off 8pm) overtaking the previous milestone of 57 established by David Humphreys, now the director of rugby with the club.
Remarkably, Trimble’s 58 appearances have come consecutively – he has started in every Heineken Cup match since making his debut against Benetton Treviso on October 21, 2005, scoring two tries in the match.
Ulster’s previous lack of progress in Europe has seen Humphreys hold the most appearances record for six years.
Ironically, it was this weekend in 2008 that he made his last appearance in Europe against Bourgoin, missing out on the final pool match that season against Gloucester due to injury.
Trimble had joked ahead of equalling Humphreys’ record last month in the away game against Treviso that he thought his employer might drop him from the squad.
Humphreys was never one to get too excited about records, knowing that the way the modern game is now and the number of games in a season, his appearances and points scored records would eventually be overhauled.
And Trimble, currently Ulster’s second most capped player behind Paddy Wallace, admitted that while it was something special to achieve, it would mean nothing if Ulster did not get the victory they needed against Montpellier tonight.
“David was a tremendous player for Ulster, and yes, it is nice in a way that it is me who has overtaken him,” said Trimble.
“If we do not get the win against Montpellier it will not make the night as special as it could be,” added Trimble who has 174 Ulster caps and 50 Irish.
Trimble is sure to get a rousing reception at another sold out Ravenhill as will British Lion hooker, Rory Best, who has recovered from a fractured arm operated on six week ago this week.
Best’s return to the side is a huge boost along with the return of captain, Johann Muller.
The pair are two of three changes to the side which defeated Munster in the RaboDirect PRO12 last week, the other seeing Nick Williams start at No 8.
Meanwhile, Ulster Rugby confirmed last night that Irish prop, Declan Fitzpatrick had agreed a two year extension to his contract and also, as revealed by the News Letter, a short term contract extension for Stephen Ferris who continues his rehab from an ankle injury sustained on November 2, 2012.