ARRIVING at Kingsholm with a big reputation, Ben Morgan is relishing his newfound responsibility of unlocking the Gloucester backline.
The Cherry and Whites have an exciting back division that includes Freddie Burns, Jonny May, Henry Trinder and his former Dursley youth teammate Charlie Sharples - but the key to Gloucester's success is Morgan's go-forward ability. The 23-year-old No 8 joined Gloucester from former club Llanelli Scarlets earlier this summer and, after featuring for England on their tour of South Africa back in June, is eagerly awaiting the start of the new season.
Reunited with director of rugby Nigel Davies, who also joined the Cherry and Whites from Scarlets to take the place of Sale-bound Brian Redpath, Morgan's first priority is to help his new teammates forget a dismal finish to last year's Aviva Premiership campaign.
"The boys aren't happy with how things finished last year and a big focus from the start of September will be putting that right," he said. "Our first game is against Northampton at home and you couldn't ask for a better start than that. Those are definitely the sort of games that I want to be playing in. "On a personal level, I have always wanted to test myself at the highest level possible week-in, week-out.
"I really like the responsibility I will have at Gloucester - that is something I need as a player. I want to be putting us on the front foot and leading by example. "We have a very fast backline full of young talent, so it is up to me to give them some ball to play with."
After making his Test debut at the start of this year's RBS 6 Nations, former Katharine Lady Berkeley's School pupil Morgan has now won seven caps, including a man-of-the-match performance against Ireland at Twickenham back in March.
However, with the emergence of Leicester Tigers' Thomas Waldrom, he now has a genuine rival to contest a position in Stuart Lancaster's back row. Even so, the ex-Dursley man refused to let his concentration waver from duties with Gloucester. "My first thought has to be with my home club," he added.
"The only way I can push for selection for England again is by playing well for them and starting well at Kingsholm.
"Because of the tour to South Africa, my holiday came slightly later than the other boys so it is now about getting a tough pre-season under my belt.
"If I manage that, England will follow. There are four Tests in the autumn and they are all big, heavy games against the world's big guns that will push us right to the limits. "We wouldn't have it any other way, though - it is a great chance to put things right against the Springboks at the first possible opportunity." For all the latest news and results from the final round of the J.P Morgan Premiership Rugby 7s Series, visit www.jpmorgan7s.com