Andrew Trimble still finding new ways to look up to Rory Best

Ireland winger hails influence of captain who will win his 100th cap against Australia

Rory Best will win his 100th Ireland cap against Australia and there are few better placed to deliver a eulogy marking that milestone than Andrew Trimble, a close friend, a team-mate at national and provincial level and someone well versed with the qualities of the man, the player and the captain.

There is genuine affection to Trimble’s tone as he extols Best’s many virtues before realising that he must stop before crossing the threshold of a door marked “gushing”. He smiles, before continuing: “I could go on all day but I’ll start getting slagged.”

Trimble is invited to do so. He portrays Best as a player to whom people listen, a player who commands huge respect whether as captain or a member of the rank and file. “On and off the pitch, he’s an example to follow for young people and even me. I’m only a few years younger; I’m still looking up to him.

“So he’s 100 per cent deserving of this accolade of becoming a centurion. He’ll take it and he’ll rise to the occasion but he’ll be humble enough not to make the day about him. He’ll make it about Ireland and getting the result.


“That’s what you want from a leader like that and that’s why he’s looked up to so much.”

He was asked to draw a parallel between Best’s style of captaincy and that of previous incumbents, Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell. “It’s maybe a little bit in between the two. I suppose he can do it all really. I’ve watched him develop as a captain and leader. Even in the last six months, more and more of what he says holds a lot of weight and grabs people’s attention.

Key messages

“He’s got that ability to deliver what he has to say and be precise, specific, about the key messages that are delivered. As well as that, whenever you get on the pitch, you just follow him into battle. He’s a guy who sets the example and sets the tone for intensity, with and without the ball.

“In defence he knows exactly what he wants to do, get off the line, and he’s tough and rugged and hardy. But he’s a guy I’ve looked up to for a long time and he very much deserves this accolade.”

Conversation turns to Saturday and the visit of Michael Cheika's Wallabies. The disappointment of last weekend lingers and probably smarts as much as the bumps and bruises, but the Irish players are determined not to finish on a low note. In South Africa during the summer they won the first Test and lost the next two, and that serves as a painful reminder.

Trimble admitted: “We were very proud of what we accomplished but we didn’t kick on and ultimately the feeling at the end of the [South African] tour was disappointment. At the end of this autumn, if we don’t kick on that will be probably the same feeling.

“We can either become a side that every now and again [wins] or we can become a side that consistently performs and consistently beats the best teams in the world; that’s where we want to be.”

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan

John O'Sullivan is an Irish Times sports writer