Andrew Trimble hails Ulster’s back line
Andrew Trimble made his Ulster debut against Cardiff Blues in September 2005 and went on amass 229 caps for the province.
At the end of his impressive first season playing in the centre, Trimble helped Ulster win the Magners League and was crowned Player of the Year.
In the final game of the season, which Ulster had to win at the Ospreys, Trimble was in the centre with Paddy Wallace.
The back three was Bryn Cunningham, Tommy Bowe and Andy Maxwell, while Isaac Boss and David Humphreys formed the half back partnership, it was Humphreys drop goal in the last minute that secured the title.
Trimble, now a pundit for Premier Sports, feels the current Ulster back line surpasses the one which won the league at the Liberty Stadium.
“Way better,” commented Trimble when asked to compare the 2006 and 2021 backs. “There is so much ability, the centres are flying at the minute and that back three is very exciting. It is ridiculous that we have forgot about Will Addison he is one of Ulster’s most exciting players, Rob Lyttle hasn’t played much rugby either.
“It is nice to see Craig Gilroy getting back to form, he has always had X-factor, the footwork and the pace but now he has a bit of physicality, and he is throwing his weight around as well.
“He can cope with a bit of traffic, and he is going great.
“Ethan McIlroy is pure X-factoras well and is going great. I think we can be excited about this back line, they can threaten defences and they can do it consistently, they are all fit and they are hungry for work.
“There’s a lot of those young Ulster players who play without fear, like James Hume who’s playing out of his skin at the moment, and are loving playing their rugby.
“That’s the kind of mindset that transfers into winning those big games. I think we can be excited by this young Ulster backline.”
Ulster are scheduled to play Leinster on New Year’s Day and Trimble feels Leo Cullen’s men will travel up the M1 with a point to prove after Ulster inflicted a 20-10 on the current league champions when the sides met at the RDS at the end of November.
“Once the other provinces get a bit excited thinking beating Leinster is a little more achievable than it was last year or the year before that’s when they trip you up,” he said.
“Leinster always come good, if I was Ulster I’d be concerned about a backlash, they will remember James Hume’s celebration, they will remember that whole day, they will be fed up and they will be ready to make it count and remind Ulster what the pecking order is in Irish rugby.
“Whenever Leinster have their backs against the wall they very rarely disappoint. I think we can all get excited, but that excitement is misplaced as Leinster will always come good.
“Ulster played very well that day (at the RDS) but I do think it was a case of Leinster not hitting that level they normally hit more so than Ulster’s incredible performance.
“Ulster really didn’t stretch them that much, they were dynamic, they were quick, but they were pretty direct as well, they kept the tempo high and they kept the ball quick, they didn’t so much stretch the defence, they just found holes in it or put them under enough pressure.
“It felt like we were waiting for Leinster to have a reaction, to do something and have that purple patch and blow teams away like they do, and they never really delivered.
“I think they will deliver this time I think they will have a point to prove and they will be fired up to prove that point.
“It was always a special one, you would always back Ulster at home to produce a big performance and make it a big showcase and hopefully there will still be crowds there and everything that goes with that to make it the occasion it should be.
“It is always a big occasion playing Leinster and hopefully they rise to the occasion.”
Premier Sports will have full live coverage on New Year Day as Connacht host Munster (Premier Sports 1 from 5pm) and Ulster host Leinster (Premier Sports 1 from 7.25pm).
The fifth derby of the festive season sees Munster host Ulster on January 8th with all the live action live on Premier Sports 2 from 7pm.