LEGENDARY Abertillery, Wales and Lions flanker Haydn Morgan has died aged 81.

A superb tackler who had the speed and the hands of a three-quarter, he became the scourge of many an outside half and back division while playing for club and country.

He won the first of his 27 Welsh caps at the age of 21 in a 3-3 draw against England at Twickenham and held onto his place in the back row for the remainder of the 1958 Five Nations championship, scoring a match-winning try against Ireland in Dublin.

Wales finished as runners-up to England that season and he was a mainstay in the Clive Rowlands led side that won the Triple Crown and title in 1965. He played alongside his Abertillery team mate Alun Pask in the Welsh back row in 17 internationals.

Morgan finished with three test tries in a Welsh shirt, but he also scored four tries in 34 appearances on two tours with the British & Irish Lions.

He won two caps against New Zealand on the 1959 tour to Australasia, including the victory in the fourth and final test, and then faced the Springboks twice on the 1962 tour, once again alongside Pask.

He had previous experience of playing in South Africa having toured there with the 1958 Barbarians - the first player from Abertillery to play for the famous invitation club.

He also played for the Baa-Baas against the Springboks at the end of their 1960/61 tour to the UK, scoring one of the two tries in a famous 6-0 victory at Cardiff Arms Park - the only defeat suffered by the tourists on their 34 match tour.

Born in Oakdale, his playing career began at Newbridge Grammar School as a centre. He then played for Oakdale, but reverted to the back row after joining Abertillery in 1954.

He captained Abertillery in the 1959/60 and 1964/65 seasons and also played for the Combined Abertillery-Ebbw Vale sides that faced Australia in 1957 and 1966, South Africa in 1960 and New Zealand in 1963.

He also played for the combined England-Wales XV against Scotland-Ireland at Twickenham in 1959 and played at English rugby's headquarters for the Army in the annual Inter-Services Championship during his National Service.

He was a lance-corporal in REME and the Royal Marines and became a paratrooper in the Airborne Division.

His final appearance for Wales was in the defeat to Australia in Cardiff in 1966 and a year later, at the age of 31, he emigrated to South Africa. He continued playing for the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg and for Transvaal B before moving to Durban, where he worked as a car salesman.

During one of his return visits to the UK he stayed on to help coach London Welsh for a short spell in 1988/89. He died in Monmouth on Friday.