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Muller will be 'massively missed' at Ulster says Andrew Trimble

The Ireland wing has paid tribute to the South African’s outstanding leadership at the province.

Muller and Trimble combine to halt Munster's Donnacha Ryan in 2012.
Muller and Trimble combine to halt Munster's Donnacha Ryan in 2012.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

ULSTER WING ANDREW Trimble admits that the province’s retiring captain Johann Muller will be extremely difficult to replace next season, particularly in his leadership ability.

Confirmation that the 34-year-old will hang up his boots at the end of the current campaign only adds to the sense that Mark Anscombe’s side must take any chance they get at trophy success this year, before the loss of key men like Muller and John Afoa in the summer.

Anscombe has penned a new one-year extension to his contract, which Trimble has greeted as encouraging, if expected, news. However, the Ireland international underlined that he was a little surprised at hearing about Muller.

Actually I didn’t know about Johann; I knew that he was going to South Africa to make a decision, but with Mark that’s great news. We’re going great at the minute and if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. We’re going really well and to have Mark around for another year is great.

“But it’s bittersweet with Johann leaving. He’s going to be very, very difficult to replace. He’s a leader, he’s a great lad off the pitch and everybody looks up to him. I mean it was his big decision to make, we knew he was going to go home and take a bit of time to see how he feels.”

Trimble says that his own conversations with Muller had revealed the true creaking nature of the South African’s body, meaning he “doesn’t feel he’s up to” playing another season beyond this one. What it does signify is that Muller will put “a big, big effort” into finishing on a high in the Pro12 and Heineken Cup.

Influence

In terms of what the former Sharks lock has truly brought to the province since joining in 2010, Trimble points out that even beyond the superb line-outs skills and rucking efficiency, the 2007 World Cup winner is a man of immense influence.

He’s been enormous. We’ve got a few leaders in there, but someone like him is the guy who produces a massive amount of motivation for the other guys. He sets standards very high and I think he’s a really good influence for all of us, experienced Irish internationals and young guys coming through.”

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Trimble admitted that Ulster will struggle to replace Muller next season, before suggesting that Director of Rugby David Humphreys may have to dig into the province’s pockets in an attempt to do so.

“He’s going to be massively missed and hopefully Humphs can pull a rabbit out of a hat and maybe try to find someone to replace him.”

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Ulster captain Johann Muller will retire at the end of this season

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