'The All Blacks can play 10 different ways and they're not easy to prepare for'

Andrew Trimble and Ireland switched onto the task of beating New Zealand earlier this week.

JOE SCHMIDT’S IRELAND squad gathered at Carton House last Sunday and got through two days of preparation for November.

The All Blacks came up more than once or twice.

The mindset under the Kiwi head coach has always been about taking things one game at a time. For this meeting in their Maynooth base, Ireland’s focus was on Schmidt’s native land.

Ireland team face the Haka Andrew Trimble faced the All Blacks in 2010. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

There was work on Ireland’s exiting, their defence, and more. There were reviews of several elements of the South Africa tour too, but the All Blacks were clearly in focus. Chicago on 5 November is only around the corner.

“We looked at what they’re doing at the minute, we were looking at what they did a year ago,” says wing Andrew Trimble when asked about Ireland’s early analysis of Steve Hansen’s side.

“The All Blacks are a side that can play 10 different ways and they’re not a side that’s easy to prepare for. It’s an even more daunting task when you’ve got to play them twice, so it didn’t surprise me or any of the boys that there was a lot of homework squeezed into two days.

And it’s really important that we go away and have thoughts on how we’re going to beat them and how we’re going about winning that game, approaching that game.

“The All Blacks are going to be playing plenty of games between now and then, so hopefully we’ll be able to get a bit of an idea and go from there.”

The Kiwis romped to a six-try, 42-8 victory over Michael Cheika’s Wallabies last Saturday to give Schmidt and Ireland plenty of fresh food for thought.

With Australia in Wellington this weekend for the second Bledisloe Cup clash, there will be many Irish eyes glued to the TV as they look to pick out hints of even the slightest chink in the All Blacks’ imposing armour.

Trimble mentions the “daunting” nature of looking towards two meetings with New Zealand this year, while there is an obvious excitement at the opportunity too.

Andrew Trimble Trimble was at the Guinness Pro12 launch this week. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Schmidt’s reputation for being able to identify and ruthlessly target opposition weaknesses faces its greatest test yet, but the head coach will stress to his players the need for confidence.

“I think it’s important that you have a bit of balance,” says Trimble.

“From an Ulster point of view, whenever there’s a fear factor, whenever you feel you’re going away from home and everything has to fall into place for you to get a result or hang in there, whenever there’s that fear factor – that produces a big, big display.

“It’s important that we have an appreciation of how good this [New Zealand] team is, but as well as that they are just 15 guys on a pitch.

It’s important that we know that if we perform as well as we can – as we did out here [the Aviva Stadium] a few years ago – we did everything but beat them here and who’s to say we can’t increase that performance level another 1% or 2%.

“It’s good to have that balance. To be daunted or just to have the right amount of respect for your opposition but at the same time have a good level of self-belief and know how good we can potentially be.”

Having switched into Ireland mode for the early part of the week, Trimble is now back into his provincial mindset with Ulster and enjoying his new role as co-captain, alongside hooker Rob Herring.

It’s a vital season for the northern province as they finally look to get over line and win the Guinness Pro12.

Director of rugby Les Kiss has opted for a co-captaincy model as a means to ensuring a greater spread of leadership in the squad, with the hope being that not having a single figure at the top of the triangle – in former captain Rory Best – will result in other leaders emerging.

Andrew Trimble Trimble is positive about Ulster's new leadership model. Gary Carr / INPHO Gary Carr / INPHO / INPHO

Trimble is of the belief that this new modus operandi can be one part of Ulster securing the trophy that has eluded them for too long.

“It certainly was an easy decision for me to make,” says Trimble of taking on the co-captaincy.

“To be honest, it wasn’t something I’d been targeting or looking forward to. It’s something I wasn’t sure if my role would be suitable for that sort of responsibility, but it’s amazing how whenever someone suggests it to you – Kissy suggested it – I was 100% keen to do it and really up for it.

The leadership philosophy or structure is different for us moving forward and I think it will be good for us.

“There’s so much leadership in our team and I think it will be good that we all step up and take responsibility, even just back three, centre partnership, halfbacks.

“There’s a lot of leadership throughout and the idea is that two of us are doing the job, but we’re introducing the concept of everyone taking responsibility and standing up. ‘Leading each other’ is the way Kissy phrased it and certainly it’s something a lot of us can get behind.

“I think that’s one of the ways we will get to the next level.”

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