Andrew Trimble can’t see any other winner other than Leinster
Former Ulster and Ireland winger Andrew Trimble believes no one will stop Leinster from claiming a fifth consecutive domestic league title.
The bookies have Leo Cullen’s side as 4/6 odds-on favourites to win the newly revamped United Rugby Championship, which starts this weekend.
Trimble scored 50 tries in the domestic competition and was part of the Ulster side that claimed the title in 2006 when David Humphreys’ last gasp dramatic drop goal at the Ospreys saw the trophy come to Belfast.
That was to be Ulster’s last piece of silverware while Leinster have won seven league titles in 14 years, including the last four.
“We’re all hoping for an upset, aren’t we?” said Trimble, who will be working as a pundit for Premier Sports when the action kicks off.
“Leinster have been there time and time again, and with their production line there’s going to be a couple of stars coming into that Leinster team next year that we’re not even talking about now, and they’ll be world beaters at the end of the season.
“They have six or seven Ireland internationals in their back row and you go, ‘how do we compete with this?’
“You don’t compete with it just by bringing in (Duane) Vermeulen, we compete with this long-term by developing guys, making sure that environment’s healthy and getting the best out of young guys,” he added.
“That’s not something you change overnight, there is enough talent in Ulster’s team, in their back line in particular, to think they can beat them in a one-off, but over the course of a season they’re so consistent... I don’t think anyone gets the better of them.”
Ulster matched Leinster’s league record last season by winning 14 games and losing two, however the Dubliners picked up six more try-scoring bonus points and one more losing bonus point than Dan McFarland’s side, which accounted for the seven-point gap at the top of Conference A and saw the RDS side reach the final.
Trimble is puzzled as to how Ulster can surpass the reigning champions.
“It’s really difficult to know what the answer to that is, (Leinster’s) production line is so robust and so consistent that if you think you’re gaining ground on them, they bring through someone else,” he said.
“And they’re so innovative and creative, they’re a team that consistently perform and you rarely get the better of them.
“In a one-off you can, and when it comes down to play-offs, who knows? Especially if Ulster play that brand of rugby we know they can play.”
Trimble is looking forward to seeing the young talent in the Ulster back line gelling.
“That’s the area to be very excited about, isn’t it?
“We were talking young guys coming through champing at the bit and not getting the opportunities, but it’s a young back line and there’s a lot of talent, and they’ve all shown that and stood up.
“Stewart Moore’s had a couple of opportunities, he looks really good, James Hume’s done well and taken his chance with Ireland.
“There’s a lot going on to be very excited about a young, exciting back line, as long as they get parity up front then they’ll get the opportunity to show their talent out the backs and you should get very excited about that.
“You need a Vermeulen, you need to get those gain lines or that go forward ball, but once you get that it’s time for the backs to shine and play that style of rugby that will get Kingspan Stadium on its feet and enjoying that style of rugby again.”