CHRIS KIRWAN: Matthew Morgan provides food for thought
9:57am Thursday 5th June 2014 in Sport
IT’S unlikely that the chef went into a panic when informed about Warren Gatland’s late decision to increase his Wales squad for South Africa from 31 to 32 by bringing in pint-sized Matthew Morgan.
Usually another player would prompt the ordering of another cow given the head coach's track record for going for big units that have the ability to get over the gain line and win the collisions.
Gatland has frequently been lambasted for only picking big ‘uns so it would be churlish to dismiss an opportunity being given to a little ‘un.
It’s hard to imagine Morgan being thrown in against the Springboks but the diminutive fly-half could certainly brighten up the Eastern Province Kings encounter, just like did the Probables versus Possibles trial at the Liberty Stadium after coming on at full-back.
It fell perfectly for the Bristol-bound livewire.
The conditioning game had lost its shape because of a raft of substitutions and the Probables line-up was no longer the Test XV. Morgan was in a no-lose situation and opted to run, run, run rather than use the boot; something that comes naturally to the man from Bridgend.
Morgan is a joy to watch in full flight in a broken game and now Gatland and his coaches will have to weigh up whether his strengths outweigh his weaknesses; something that becomes harder the higher the level.
There is less space in Test rugby, defences are better and the eight-man bench means that the game does not break up in the manner that it used to.
He travels to South Africa as a back-three player and there is no doubt that he will be vulnerable under the high ball – think Lote Tuqiri v Jason Robinson in the 2003 World Cup final – while he will also be dared to run from his own half, something that Gatland teams traditionally avoid.
Then there is his defence, and I can remember Cross Keys’ Lloyd Burns constantly running down his channel to great effect in a Premiership encounter with Swansea at Pandy Park. There is no hiding place in Test rugby.
But Morgan does have his positives and his game management, which is poor compared to his Ospreys rivals Dan Biggar and Sam Davies, should improve with game time at Bristol next season.
He is some way down the pecking order whether at 10 or 15 but Morgan provides a welcome alternative for the Wales coaching team as they start to think towards the 2015 World Cup.
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