WORLD Cup winner Lawrence Dallaglio has warned former Dursley player Ben Morgan he won’t walk straight back into the England team, writes Sacha Clayton.
Having lost his place at No.8 during the autumn internationals to Leicester’s Thomas Waldrom, the Gloucester star was back at the base of the scrum for England’s epic December win against the All Blacks.
However, Morgan suffered an untimely ankle injury just after half time during England’s comprehensive opening Six Nations in against Scotland at Twickenham.
Morgan was replaced for the hard-fought 12-6 win in Dublin against Ireland by Northampton’s Tom Wood, with London Wasp James Haskell switching to the blindside flank.
England’s abrasive style at the breakdown and aggression in the contact area saw Wood, Haskell and England skipper Chris Robshaw win rave reviews for their performances in the back-row.
Morgan has been ruled out of the game against France at Twickenham this Saturday and is doubtful for the rest of the tournament, but Dallaglio reckons a place on the replacement’s bench is the best he can hope for whenever he does recover if Wood continues from where he left off in Dublin.
“Ben Morgan can’t do anything about injury and what people do in his absence,” said Dallaglio, speaking at the inaugural Dallaglio Foundation Rugby for Change awards at Twickenham.
“It’s unfortunate for Ben but the way Tom Wood came in to an unfamiliar position at No.8 and performed really well means Ben Morgan has a fight on his hands from here on out.
“Tom took everything in his stride and the fact that he almost went unnoticed in Ireland is a testament to the great job he did in Dublin in just getting in there and getting on with his job.
“Tom is quickly establishing himself as one of England’s most crucial players in the back-row and his performances mean it will be difficult for those out injured, namely Ben Morgan, to wrestle a place back off him.”
It’s not all doom and gloom for Morgan though as Dallaglio insists the Gloucester man is one of a kind in the England squad – his ball-carrying and fierce running style standing him out from all of his rivals.
England’s most legendary No.8 of modern times, Dallaglio, is convinced Morgan still has a role to play for Lancaster’s men but he must remain patient.
“Since bursting on the international stage with England Ben Morgan has sort of had it his own way at No.8 and has had that position sewn up,” added Dallaglio.
“Morgan is an out and out ball carrying No.8 and he does something that the others don’t do in that respect.
“You want that from a No.8, moving the side forward, controlling the base of the scrum and breaking tackles – an all-encompassing No.8 and Morgan certainly is that.”
Dallaglio Foundation Rugby for Change uses the sport and its core values to empower individuals to make positive choices, for more information www.dallagliofoundation.com