‘To be taken seriously, you need to back it up and we didn’t do that’

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Rory Keane reports from Port Elizabeth

AFTER HIS HEROICS at Ellis Park, Springboks winger Ruan Combrinck declared: “For my country I will try and run over every wall I see.”

The Lions winger certainly made his presence felt following his introduction at half-time for a struggling Lwazi Mvovo. Paddy Jackson and Jared Payne will certainly remember their first attempted tackles on Combrinck.

Trimble alongside Conor Murray and Devin Toner. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

It’s rare that a player enters the fray at the break and goes ​home ​ with the man-of-the-match award but he was that good in Johannesburg.

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Combrinck is a certainty to start this Saturday’s series decider and Andrew Trimble could very well be handed the task of shutting down a player who bristles with feral intensity every time he gets on the ball. The Ulster winger has always relished the physical side of the game but Combrinck presents a whole new challenge.

“​I​t doesn’t surprise us because every time you play the Springboks, you know there’s still so much talent, so much quality, so much power, physicality, pace and then they bring a guy like that off the bench and he had a field day, just running over boys being physical and taking the game to us,” said Trimble.

“Him and Faf de Klerk were at the epicentre of everything that went right for them the last 20 minutes so, yeah, it’s just one more person to worry about but we’re getting used to having to worry about fast and physical Springboks so it’s just another thing to worry about.”

Trimble was a part of an Irish side that felt the full brunt of a Springbok backlash during that ill-fated final quarter.

The Ireland squad are slowly recovering from last weekend’s ferocious encounter as they gear up for this Saturday’s winner takes all clash in Port Elizabeth.

“It was a tough battle out there, very physical and very first. The first half especially, a lot of running down my side. Second half, we were just taking a lot of heat and a lot of punishment.

Trimble takes a dip in Port Elizabeth. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“Physically, we were by a long way second best during that second half, we didn’t win any collisions and a few boys are still feeling a few of those hits today so we’re licking our wounds a little bit but we’re looking forward to getting back out there and putting a few of those wrongs right.”

A thrilling series will reach its conclusion at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. After the 14-man heroics at Newlands and the crushing finale in Ellis Park, Trimble feels there is one more big performance left in this Ireland squad.

“It’s been an unbelievable tour really. Newlands was special, Ellis Park was special. We’ve had an unbelievable experience obviously getting the win in Newlands. Getting to experience Ellis Park and just being aware of the atmosphere and I’m sure this weekend is going to be the same if not another step up. It is a tough place to come and play rugby.

“The Springboks are an absolute handful at times and we’re proud of a couple of occasions especially our performance in the first Test performance and we’re proud of our performance for the first 60 minutes last weekend but we’ve a lot of to work on.

“We’re aware of these big occasions, these big intense moments in games and we need to start winning them if we’re gonna win Test matches and win a series.”

It may be a Test too far for Joe Schmidt’s squad after a long season and a mounting injury list, but Trimble was refusing to settle for exceeding expectations. As long as a series victory remains on the line, this squad will continue to fight to the better end.

“I think we’re aware that we can be a quality side and win Test matches,” he added.

Trimble has been in strong form in South Africa. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“We can come to the southern hemisphere and win games, but there’s no point in us talking about that, we need to prove that and back that talk up. We did that in Newlands, we showed an awful lot of character and dug in.

“We played some really good rugby that we’re really proud of, but to be taken seriously, you need to back that up and we didn’t do that at the weekend.”

“In a way, I agree with you but, in another way, I don’t because I think the best sides out there, the type of side that we want to become is a side that backs it up and we haven’t back it up yet.”

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