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RBS 6 Nations: Big Ben aiming to leave Wales feeling sick

By The Citizen  |  Posted: March 08, 2014

By Mike Brown @citizen_rugby

Ben Morgan is relshing his clash with old pals

Ben Morgan is relshing his clash with old pals

BEN Morgan is determined to leave his old mates feeling sick when England take on Wales in a Six Nations showdown on Sunday.

The Gloucester number eight spent three years with the Scarlets before returning to the West Country in 2012.

He made his first start Red Rose start against the auld enemy in the same year and was so nervous he emptied the contents of his stomach on the hallowed Twickenham turf.

But he is aiming to leave the likes of former teammates Rhys Priestland, Jonathan Davies and George North queasy by leading England’s charge at HQ.

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Morgan said: “It has been pretty quiet with a lot of detail to go through and there is not much time for banter with the boys.

“I still speak to Rhys, George and Foxy (Davies) but it is a busy season and you don’t get an awful lot of downtime and everyone has been working hard.

“I’m sure we will have a catch-up after the game and have a beer and a good old chinwag.”

Morgan has been in sensational form as a super-sub for Stuart Lancaster’s men but has been handed the number eight jersey following Billy Vunipola’s Championship ending ankle injury.

And he is desperate to make a similar impact right from the off as England aim to keep their Championship chariot on course.

He said: “Billy has been playing out of his skin – he has been on fire and has deservedly taken that starting shirt – it has been frustrating sat there behind him.

“But I’m ready to take on the starting jersey and I am relishing the Wales game.

“It was a bit of a slow start to the season getting my head right and sorting my training out and getting myself ready to go. I w as not happy with where I was but I was happy in the autumn when I started to make big impacts again and I was able to take that form back to Gloucester.

“Off the bench I have been making decisive impacts and that is what I want to do from the first whistle.

“The Wales game is good for me because my first start in an England jersey two years ago at Twickenham. It is great for me that I am back involved in the starting line-up.

With Wales selecting a star-studded side, containing 12 British and Irish Lions in their starting line-up, Morgan is well aware of the challenge that lies ahead.

He reckons his former Scarlet teammates have become better players and is under no illusions that to stop Wales, England must knock their giant ball carriers out of their stride.

Morgan said: “They are better than they were. A lot of those players have gone away with the Lions and that is a great experience. They are have been playing with more experienced people to learn from and they are getting better and better

“They have a handful of players they use to get over the gain line. If you look at their team from one to15 they are all big men and all about getting over the gain line. We can’t let them do that because that is when they are start to hurt you.

“They use the likes of Jamie Roberts, Richard Hibbard and Toby Faletau – they are all big men and that is the way they play.”

As is always the case in rugby, it all begins up front and Morgan will be tasked with putting England over the gain-line and on the front foot.

He will go up against Wales’ familiar back-row of Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton and Toby Faletau – the same trio that started the British and Irish Lions third Test.

Morgan has faced Faletau in the past and rates the Dragons’ back-row highly but he is confident England can match fire with fire.

He added: “I’ve not played against Toby a great deal. I just seemed to miss the Newport fixtures. He is a big physical presence, likes to get his hands on the ball and it is one of those head to heads that you want to win.

“Lydiate and Warburton complement each other pretty well. Lydiate likes to chop people pretty low and Warburton is very quick and very strong over the ball. That works pretty well and Toby is the ball carrier out of the bunch.

“With the Welsh they have played together for quite a long time and have established a good relationship. I would like to think we have got that relationship as well. It worked pretty well in the games that have just gone.

“It is the time you spend playing with those players. You get to know their habits and what they like to do.”

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