Ireland winger Andrew Trimble believes he has emerged from the most challenging period of his career a more resilient character.
For the Ulster contingent of Ireland’s World Cup squad the debacle in France was just the beginning of a season that has deteriorated further at Ravenhill.
Having returned from Ireland’s morale-sapping World Cup campaign, Trimble was plunged into the midst of a provincial crisis.
Ulster were dumped out of the Heineken Cup by Christmas and continue to prop up the Magners League table, with Matt Williams replacing former coach Mark McCall in the process.
But while the past five months have proved demanding, Trimble - who starts on the right wing for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy - has drawn strength from the experience.
“There was a massive, massive build-up to the World Cup and in the end it was extremely disappointing,” he said.
“But the only way to deal with it is to be mentally tough. You’ve no other option.
“You just have to say: ‘That’s it, we have to forget about it and move on’.
“In Belfast, when we went back, we had to just roll up our sleeves and it has been difficult.
“It’s not fun losing week in, week out but hopefully it’s built my character a little bit.
“I’d like to think that I got a lot of experience out of it that will help me through similar situations further on in my career.
“This season has been tough and it is something that every rugby player has to deal with it at some stage.
“But I suppose I know I have the experience of dealing with it.”
Ireland’s disastrous performance at the World Cup braced Trimble for what was to come with Ulster as the 23-year-old has been well versed to losing in green and white jerseys this season.
“When the Ulster lads went back to the province we felt we had a bit of experience in dealing with a situation like that,” he said.
“We used that experience. At Ulster we’ve been trying to build gradually. Now we’ve got a new coach and a new direction.”