Our turn for success! Ulster flyer Trimble set to upset Leinster
22:58 GMT, 18 May 2012
Ulster go into Saturday's seismic, all-Irish Heineken Cup Final against Leinster at Twickenham ready to unleash all the 'jealousy' built up over several years of watching their rival provinces rule the roost.
While the reigning champions from Dublin are the nailed-on favourites to retain their title – 2-7, according to Ladbrokes – what Joe Schmidt's magnificent side must contend with is the sheer weight of motivation propelling their northern opponents to upset the odds.
Focused: Ulster and Ireland winger Andrew Trimble
So much angst and pent-up frustration will be poured into Ulster's last big push to emulate their predecessors from 1999 who won Europe's top prize.
They relish the underdog status too, having embraced it and made a mockery of it in the historic quarter-final triumph over Munster at Thomond Park.
Andrew Trimble, the Ireland wing who grew up supporting Ulster, gave a vivid indication of exactly what this occasion means.
'We are motivated by jealousy, to be honest,' he said. 'We were getting fed up of being seen as the third-choice province, hanging on behind Leinster and Munster.
'Playing Leinster in this final adds intensity and passion. We want to leapfrog them and become the No 1 province. We have become genuine contenders for the trophy and this is an opportunity we don't want to let slip.'
For the likes of Trimble, Rory Best and Stephen Ferris, the home-grown players who have been at the vanguard of Ulster's revival under the coaching guidance of Brian McLaughlin, this is a personal and passionate odyssey. 'I'd always been an Ulster supporter,' said Trimble, 'I was there at Lansdowne Road in 1999 when we won it.
Since then, I've played for Ulster for seven years.
'This is not just my career, it's been my entire life and the climax is on Saturday. It means the world. We've come so far, now we have to finish it off.'
Ready for action: Leinster's Eoin Reddan (2nd left) catches the ball during training with captain Leo Cullen
Having fought back from the brink of oblivion to beat Northampton in last year's final, Leinster are aiming for a third title with the belief that they have the big-game experience and temperament. They are awash with match-winners, from Brian O'Driscoll to fly-half Jonathan Sexton, Jamie Heaslip at No 8 and Lions full back Rob Kearney, who will start after recovering from injury.
Meanwhile, Ulster welcome back Chris Henry and prop John Afoa, who returns from a four-week suspension. Paddy Jackson has retained his starting place at fly-half, with the experienced Ian Humphreys on the bench.
Leinster will be also wary of the goal-kicking threat posed by Ulster's Ruan Pienaar and flanker Ferris, both on the ERC Player of the Year shortlist.
'I think I'm playing really well this season,' said Ferris.
'Coming back from injury, I got myself really fit for the World Cup, then I had a good tournament, came home and have just carried on bouncing along. I've been part of every Heineken Cup game and I've had a few man-of-the-match performances.'
His individual clash with Ireland team-mate and room-mate Sean O'Brien will be one of the pivotal factors in this game. They have played against each other only once, so the two colliding will be a rare and fascinating spectacle.
'Sean is one of the best back-rowers in the world and as good a ball carrier as anyone in Europe,' said Ferris. 'We roomed together during the World Cup. He's a good mate of mine and it will be a good match-up. Hopefully we will clash a few times but at the end we'll shake hands and be friends again.'
When they shake hands, Ferris may have to congratulate his friend reluctantly. For all Ulster's drive and determination, Leinster are favourites for a reason.