Andrew Trimble will become the first player in Ulster’s history to reach the milestone of 200 caps when he leads the side out against Munster at Kingspan Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Trimble made his debut just over 10 years ago in a narrow victory over Cardiff at the Arms Park and has went on to score 67 tries, with 43 in the domestic competition and 24 in Europe.
“In my head I was thinking of setting a potential target for a few guys to chase maybe Rory, Roger or Darren will overtake it these guys are in the mix but definitely probably all of us will be overtaken by Gilroy or some other young fellow coming through who will play more games and if they go injury free they will be able to do that but no matter what happens with that I’ll be the first person to get 200 and that will never change and that is something that I am very proud of, I have been working for a lot of years to get to that point and I’m very proud,” said Trimble.
It will be extra special as the Irish winger will celebrate the record in front of his home fans and he is hoping he won’t be left out on the pitch on his own as he was earlier in the season when he became the province’s most capped player.
“Rory was slagging me he thought I wasn’t going to be playing against Connacht last week and then it would had been away to Oyonnax, it’s a big occasion, it’s an interpro here it’s going to be packed out.”
“Hopefully Rory doesn’t leave me hanging as long as Rob did but it will be special.”
Trimble has fond memories of his first cap.
“I didn’t have much involvement, I remember Tommy scoring a nice try, I remember the season before when I was on development/academy I didn’t play I trained all season I was just watching Tommy running in tries for fun and now the two of us are all washed up old men and just trying to keep up with some of the younger guys.”
“I think we won that day and it seems a long time since then, the body feels a lot older but hopefully I still have got a few years.”
Ulster won the Magners League in Trimble’s first season but haven’t lifted any silverware since.
“I don’t think I appreciated how fortunate I was to have the culture and that environment, every time we went out we knew we were going to win, the last game of the season against the Ospreys with the drop goal it never seemed like we weren’t going to win the game or league, I never even looked at the league standing to see where we were I just knew we were probably in the mix, it was that sort of environment and it was good for me and my development.”
“We just dropped off a cliff in the next season or the next two definitely and we just had to start rebuilding and creating that environment and culture, we have done that but it has taken a long time and generally we are going in the right direction and I want to make sure we win something in the next year or two and to do that you have to win big games like Saturday afternoon.”
Trimble is third on the all time Pro12 try scoring list with 43 but he isn’t holding out much hope of catching the two players in front of him team mate Tommy Bowe on 62 and Tim Visser on 58.
“Bowe has gone he’s out of sight and Visser both of them have gone I’d say, there were a couple of years when Tommy was playing for the Ospreys him Visser were scoring every weekend two or three tries all the time, I think they are gone that’s a pipe dream.”
Saturday will be a special occasion for Trimble as he is likely to receive a commemorative cap but his 100th game in an Ulster shirt passed under the radar.
“I remember getting my 100th but no else remembered, nothing happened, it was Edinburgh away and it was the season we were fighting it out with Connacht to get into Europe and we played Connacht the following week but it didn’t matter as we bonus pointed Edinburgh away from home in the second last game of the season.”
“We were sitting watching tv and I’d ice on my knee in a room with Niall O’Connor and I was like Niall that was my 100th game and no one has remembered, it reminds of when I was 20 years old as a development contract and the schedule came out and we had to meet on the pitch for the team photo I forgot all about it and didn’t turn up and again nobody even noticed, I was glad I never got in trouble but disappointed no one cared.”
“I think we are becoming more aware and starting to celebrate things a bit more and just be more proud as a club not saying we weren’t at the time I wasn’t upset at all.”
“There is something about making a scene this weekend and leading the team there is a part of me that can’t be bothered with that distraction but at the same time I want to remember the occasion and be proud of it.”
Trimble is hoping to keep his shirt from Saturday’s match with Munster.
“I might keep the shirt if Mick allows me, I’ve only won a couple of Triple Crowns, a Six Nations and a league which is not a massive return from 11 years but even with that small bit of silverware I still have so much memorabilia, world cup caps, world cup jerseys there is so much crap you add along the way, it’s just another thing you give to your dad to get framed and then never see it again.”