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Matthew Morgan ready for World Cup challenge

Published 11/09/2015

Former Osprey Matthew Morgan is determined to make the most of his World Cup opportunity with Wales
Former Osprey Matthew Morgan is determined to make the most of his World Cup opportunity with Wales

International rugby union has become a playground of the giants - but that will not stop Matthew Morgan from having fun.

At 5ft 8in tall, Morgan is diminutive by modern-day Test match standards, yet the 23-year-old Bristol back has continued to punch above his height and weight by securing a place in Wales' World Cup squad.

And a player that Wales head coach Warren Gatland readily acknowledges has the "X factor" could prove to be head and shoulders above many of his World Cup rivals when it comes to the entertainment business.

Morgan scores tries and shreds defences for fun, whether it be at full-back or fly-half, with the pocket rocket known for his blistering pace and mesmeric angles of running.

Morgan might be almost a foot shorter than his World Cup colleague Alex Cuthbert, while team-mates like George North, Jamie Roberts, Cory Allen, Mike Phillips and Dan Biggar also tower above him, but size hardly matters when a player offers so many other attributes.

How much of a role Morgan plays in the World Cup remains to be seen, although it would be no surprise if he gained an opportunity to showcase his talent during Wales' Pool A opener against Millennium Stadium opponents Uruguay on Sunday week.

"I was chuffed to bits when I had the call and found out I was in the squad," Morgan said.

"The last couple of months have been massive. I am trying to do my best in training, and it's worked, which has been good.

"They back me and want me to go out on the pitch and just express myself."

Morgan was last season's Championship player of the year, scoring 157 points during Bristol's ultimately failed bid to secure an Aviva Premiership return.

And while the attacking side of his game regularly earns rave reviews, questions are inevitably thrown his way when it comes to another key ingredient of any professional player - defence.

Asked the inevitable question of whether he is physically big enough to shackle larger opponents, Morgan takes it in his stride.

"I've had that most of my life," he added. "I have just had to get on with it - there is nothing I can do other than to crack on.

"I work in the gym and on my tackle technique, but I've never been bothered by having to put in tackles. It doesn't faze me - you can't go into a game not backing yourself.

"They said that about Shane Williams, and he became the best player in the world.

"I have had the odd coach saying 'you are not big enough', but you have just got to go low and back your technique all the way. I am more than happy with my tackling, and I don't mind getting stuck in."

Morgan will return to Bristol after the World Cup for his second season with the club, having quit the Ospreys and joined the Championship side whose Welsh contingent features players like Gavin Henson, Dwayne Peel and Ian Evans.

"It was one of those things," Morgan said, reflecting on his decision to leave Welsh regional rugby.

"I think the club (Ospreys) knew I wanted more game-time and were happy for me to go somewhere else. I enjoyed my time at the Ospreys, but it was a bit frustrating because I just wanted to play.

"I had been at the Ospreys for a long time, and it was nice to have a change of scenery.

"I would love to get on the field and play at the World Cup. We have got a tough group, and it would be good to get out of it."

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