/ Six Nations 2016

Trimble stands behind captain O'Connell

Updated: Thursday, 02 Feb 2012 22:09

Andrew Trimble: "Paul is great in the dressing room. When he talks everyone else listens."
Andrew Trimble: "Paul is great in the dressing room. When he talks everyone else listens."

Andrew Trimble insists the art of captaincy remains crucial as Ireland prepare for their longest spell under the leadership of Paul O'Connell.

O'Connell has been installed as skipper for the RBS 6 Nations in place of Brian O'Driscoll, who misses the entire championship after undergoing shoulder surgery.

Ireland have been led by O'Connell on five occasions and the Munster lock is the automatic selection for the role when O'Driscoll is absent.

While coaches are eager to demystify the importance of captaincy in the modern game, instead promoting the value of 'leadership groups', Ulster winger Trimble insists they remain highly influential.

"Captaincy is still massively important. At Ulster we have Johann Muller and Rory Best. They make the decisions and do the talking," Trimble said.

"They're clear and concise, telling us what we need to do, and that's good leadership.

"Other leaders, such as Ruan Pienaar, do the right thing at the right time. He doesn't talk things up, just tends to make the right decision.

"There are different types of leader out there and O'Connell is someone I have a massive amount of respect for. When he speaks, I listen."

Trimble insists Ireland lose nothing with O'Connell, who was chosen to lead the 2009 Lions tour to South Africa ahead of O'Driscoll, at the helm.

"Paul is great in the dressing room. When he talks everyone else listens. That's the way it is with Paul," he said.

"I look up to him massively and have an enormous amount of respect for him as a leader and a player.

"To a certain extent he goes into a zone, but at the same time he communicates well. He leads well and brings everyone with him.

"Brian is a massive loss, in terms of what he has to say, but more importantly the impact he has on the pitch as well.

"But everyone's fully confident of what Paul brings. There's no better man to replace Brian as a captain."

O'Driscoll's absence has benefited Trimble as well as O'Connell.

With Keith Earls chosen to deputise for O'Driscoll at outside centre in Sunday's Six Nations opener against Wales, a vacancy has opened up for Trimble on the left wing.

Of all Ireland's fringe players at the World Cup, Trimble was the unluckiest not to see more game time and although he featured in all five games, only one was as a starter.

Now that fortune has offered him his chance, the 27-year-old is determined to make the jersey his own.

"In the last six months I feel like I've been playing well, banging on the door and trying to get starts," he said.

"If you get an opportunity but don't take it, then I'll only have myself to blame.

"That's why this weekend I want to perform as well as I've been playing for Ulster.

"I definitely want to kick on and I want to be a regular starter."

The stakes are high on Sunday, for Trimble and Ireland, with victory over an injury-depleted Wales potentially setting the tone for their campaign.

Talk of avenging last autumn's 22-10 World Cup quarter-final defeat by the Welsh has been avoided in public, but Trimble hints that behind the scenes it is felt a score needs to be settled.

"I don't want to read too much into what happened against Wales in the World Cup and Six Nations last year, but there is definitely something more special about this fixture," he said.