Back three

Schmidt: 'Some of those hours Trimble was coming to the World Cup with us'

The Ireland head coach said Felix Jones and Fergus McFadden also just missed out on inclusion.

JOE SCHMIDT SAYS Ireland’s coaching staff moved between bringing Andrew Trimble to the World Cup and leaving him out a number of times during a six hour selection meeting on Sunday.

In the end, the Ulsterman was squeezed out of the final 31-man squad, perhaps the most notable omission from Schmidt’s final playing group.

IrelandÕs Andrew Trimble Trimble is not part of Ireland's 31-man squad but came incredibly close.

“If it wasn’t a big call for Andrew Trimble then it would have been a big call for someone else in the back-three,” said Schmidt at Carton House this afternoon. “I know that was the most discussed position.

“We spent six hours on Sunday, and for some of those hours Andrew Trimble was coming to the World Cup with us and for some of those he wasn’t. That’s how tight it was.

The difference was that he’d played 34 minutes of a Test match and he’d played 80 minutes for Ulster, but in between that he’d hurt his foot again and it just interrupted his opportunity to best press for selection and time ran out for him.

“Certainly ability, commitment and what he’s contributed when he has played for us all counted for him and that’s why it was one of the very, very difficult decisions we had to make.”

Having been involved in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, the news on Sunday evening will have come as a huge blow to 30-year-old Trimble, though he may yet play some part this year as he remains on standby.

Felix Jones Felix Jones was very unlucky to be omitted. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Schmidt said the phone call to Trimble on Sunday night hadn’t been an easy one, although the wing has reacted in an encouraging manner.

“He’s a great fella. He’s very disappointed, but he’s very keen to keep working and I think there’s a number of players in that situation.

Unfortunately you get to establish pretty strong relationships with these players because you work so hard with them and so closely with them that it’s disappointing, for us as well as for them. But it’s the brutal reality of what we have to do.”

Among the other men to be left out in the back three are Munster’s Felix Jones and Leinster’s Fergus McFadden, both of who will join Trimble towards the very top of Ireland’s standby list during the World Cup.

Jones in particular came in for praise from Schmidt, while the Kiwi head coach pointed out that McFadden may be called up in the case of injuries to any of his centres.

“We do, and we have quite a wide number of players,” said Schmidt when asked if Ireland have a standby list. “Some players would be closer to being involved than others, but certainly the back-three with Felix Jones, who has been an unbelievably positive contributor and has that utter reliability as part of what’s in his locker.

Fergus McFadden tackled by Rob Evans and Taulupe Faletau McFadden provides potential centre cover. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“We feel with Andrew Trimble, Felix Jones and Fergus McFadden, and again Fergus McFadden as a goal kicker – he kicked a very nice goal at Donnybrook and missed one right from the edge and not by very far on Friday evening (against Moseley).

“He also has a little bit of flexibility to over the midfield, so we’d probably adapt with that.

I think when we decided that Simon Zebo had played well at fullback and Rob Kearney, we believe, played well on the weekend, to have three fullbacks was probably too many.

“Felix has played on the wing for us as well, but we had other specialist wings and those three players probably appeared on the list as often as they didn’t. At the end of the day, that was the balance that we went for.”

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