- England U20 hooker Nathan Morris ready for season
- Some special players in this England squad – Morris
Photo: Getty Images
After missing out on England U18’s successful summer tour to Australia, you’d forgive London Wasps hooker Nathan Morris for being a little aggrieved.
But the 2010 Cumbria Sports Personality of the Year winner wasn’t overlooked for selection – far from it – he was instead in the midst of a gruelling pre-season with Wasps, angling to be selected to play in the Premiership season opener at Twickenham against Saracens.
Nathan made the bench against Sarries – a game Wasps won 20-15 – and says that the experience is one that will stay with him for some time.
“It was massive,” he said. “I had a really good pre-season and managed to get a half in against Munster and started against Treviso, and then come Premiership time, to be on the bench with 55,000 people in the stadium was unforgettable.
“Wasps are great at throwing young players into the mix, and if they sink they sink, but usually they perform. There was a game last season where we had six under 19 players playing in a Premiership match and it’s great to be at a club where they promote the youngsters.”
Photo: RFU Archive
England’s age grade sides have produced a number of top Premiership players over the years, and the Rugby World Cup has opened the door for more young players to be given first team berths. Nathan explains that the experience gained from being involved in a match day squad is invaluable.
“A lot of the younger lads have the skill and the temperament to play at the highest level, but until you’re thrown in there you never really know how you’re going to respond. To go from playing people your own age to playing lads who are almost double your age is a true test of character.”
With fellow hooker Steve Thompson heading back to Adams Park after England’s exit from the World Cup, Nathan is understandably looking forward to pitting his wits against the 73-time capped stalwart, a man 15 years his elder.
“He’s one of the icons of English rugby, so from my point of view, as a hooker, I can’t wait to pick his brains and to ask him for a few tricks of the trade as I look to develop my game even further. He’s coming into a good side, with a great set-up and we really want to go places.”
On his selection for this season’s U20 squad, Nathan appreciates the depth of talent in the group, and has his sights set on another 6 Nations Grand Slam and winning the elusive Junior World Championship.
He added: “There are some special players in this England squad, and I know that from a personal point of view I need to learn from the experienced lads in order to push on and improve myself. But we have a nice blend of fresh blood and experience in the squad, and that’s vital.
“The dynamics need to be right in any team to be successful, and to be a top, top team you need to have a strong understanding on the pitch and good relationships off it, and that’s what I’m hoping this U20 side can achieve.”
“It’s a massive honour to be selected in this initial squad, but I know that it’s just the beginning. The U20s had an excellent season last time round, just missing out on the Junior World Championship title, so I’m hoping that we can go one better in 2012.”