A huge figure for us – Wales assistant extols ‘phenomenal’ captain Jac Morgan

By Sports Desk September 28, 2023

Wales captain Jac Morgan has been described as “phenomenal” following an immense contribution towards his country reaching the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals.

The 23-year-old flanker has proved Wales’ stand-out performer in the tournament, inspiring pivotal Pool C victories over Fiji and Australia.

Morgan’s level of leadership and all-round game defies a relative lack of experience on the Test-match stage that has seen him win 14 caps and captain Wales only four times.

But his efforts have gained comparison with former Wales and British and Irish Lions skipper Sam Warburton, who oversaw a World Cup semi-final appearance at the age of 22 in 2011.

Wales have already confirmed a quarter-final spot this time around, and they are guaranteed to finish top of their group if they beat Georgia in Nantes next week

That would then set up a potential last-eight appointment with Argentina seven days later, with Wales having reached the knockout phase under head coach Warren Gatland for a fourth successive World Cup campaign.

“Jac is phenomenal,” Wales assistant coach and forwards specialist Jonathan Humphreys said.

“He is one of these guys where nothing fazes him. He is just the same kid all the way through the week, then two minutes before the game, just the same kid.

“He is brave, and he has such an impact on the game, such an impact on the group.

“Captaincy has not changed him one iota. He is a huge figure for us, and we are blessed in that (number seven) department with Tommy (Reffell), who is back fit now, and Taine (Basham).”

Morgan was appointed co-captain for the World Cup with hooker Dewi Lake, and Gatland said: “He is growing into this role. He is still a young man, and I threw him in at the deep end.

“He has been absolutely outstanding, and I have a huge amount of admiration for him.

“He is definitely a player who leads from the front. I thought he was outstanding (against Australia), and he did exactly that. It was a brilliant performance from him.”

Wales are preparing for a training ground return following a few days’ break after their record 40-6 win against Australia in Lyon that left the Wallabies close to pool-stage elimination.

They will reassemble at their Versailles base, from where preparations will begin for Georgia.

Wales full-back Liam Williams said: “To win by 34 points (margin) against Australia at a Rugby World Cup is a dream. On to the next game now.

“Our pack was outstanding (against Australia). They got us on the front foot, and there was nothing more you could ask from a pack of forwards.

“As the head coach said, it is about being a hard team to beat, and that is what we are being at the moment.”

And lock Will Rowlands added: “It is not always the most flashy rugby, but for us it was so satisfying.

“We put pressure on them (Australia) – good scrum, good maul and got the points and went again.

“We are really pleased with how the three games have gone. Now everyone is switched on and focused on doing a job on Georgia so we can top the pool.”

Related items

  • Six uncapped players make England squad for Japan, New Zealand Tests Six uncapped players make England squad for Japan, New Zealand Tests

    England coach Steve Borthwick has named six uncapped players in his squad for their summer internationals against Japan and New Zealand. 

    England face Japan in Tokyo on June 21 in their first outing since the Six Nations, then take on the All Blacks on July 6 and July 13.

    Harlequins prop Fin Baxter and centre Luke Northmore, Sale pair Joe Carpenter and Tom Roebuck, Bristol's Gabriel Oghre and Northampton's Ollie Sleightholme are all included.

    Having named a 36-man squad, England will train at Twickenham on Tuesday before flying out to Japan to prepare for their opening Test.

    "The Summer Series presents a valuable opportunity for the continued development of this squad and is a demanding challenge to conclude the season," Borthwick said.

    "The National Stadium in Tokyo is an incredible venue for Test match rugby, and we will need to be at our very best against a Japanese team who will want to play fast.

    "New Zealand's home record is well documented, and we face a team who came within one point of winning a World Cup.

    "The players know that they will need to be mentally strong and tactically smart if we are to get the result we want."

    Full England squad: Fin Baxter, Dan Cole, Alex Coles, Chandler Cunningham-South, Ben Curry, Tom Curry, Theo Dan, Alex Dombrandt, Ben Earl, Charlie Ewels, Jamie George (c), Joe Heyes, Maro Itoje, Joe Marler, George Martin, Gabriel Oghre, Bevan Rodd, Ethan Roots, Will Stuart, Sam Underhill, Joe Carpenter, Fraser Dingwall, Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, Tommy Freeman, George Furbank, Ollie Lawrence, Alex Mitchell, Luke Northmore, Harry Randall, Tom Roebuck, Henry Slade, Ollie Sleightholme, Fin Smith, Marcus Smith, Ben Spencer, Freddie Steward.

  • Page understands Wales fans' frustrations after Gibraltar draw Page understands Wales fans' frustrations after Gibraltar draw

    Rob Page acknowledged Wales' fans are "entitled" to be frustrated after they were held to a shock goalless draw by Gibraltar.

    Page was jeered by sections of the travelling supporters at Estadio Do Algarve, where the youthful Dragons were unable to break down the nation ranked 203rd in the world.

    Gibraltar had lost each of their 13 previous matches by an aggregate score of 50-0, but managed to hold out for a memorable draw against the Euro 2016 semi-finalists.

    Despite registering 16 shots and having an xG of 1.13, the closest Wales came to scoring was when Josh Sheehan's inswinging corner came back off the crossbar.

    It marked another disappointment for Wales, who failed to qualify for Euro 2024 after their play-off defeat to Poland on penalties in March.

    Page understands the frustrations of the supporters - some of whom called for him to leave - but insists he remains focused on "the long-term plan" and his side's return to competitive action in three months' time.

    "They are entitled to their opinion, absolutely. I get it, I completely get it," Page said when asked about being booed.

    "I'm a Welsh supporter as well as the manager, I'm disappointed. But I have to keep saying about the bigger picture, and I'll probably get criticised for that. It's the bigger picture, and we're not going to lose focus on what we've done."

    "If you've got a business plan and a long-term plan, you can't be emotional. It's a draw against a Gibraltar team that we're really disappointed with, and our focus is on getting the team and squad ready for September to win Nations League games."

  • Gibraltar 0-0 Wales: Dragons held as hosts end losing streak Gibraltar 0-0 Wales: Dragons held as hosts end losing streak

    Gibraltar ended their longest-ever losing run following a 0-0 draw with Wales, a team ranked 174 places above them in the FIFA rankings.

    Julio Cesar Ribas' side had not won since seeing off Andorra 1-0 back in November 2022.

    Since then, they had lost all 13 of their matches by an aggregate score of 0-50. 

    Yet Gibraltar proved rock solid against a youthful Wales team on Thursday, with Josh Sheehan's inswining corner coming back off the crossbar in the visitors' best opportunity.

    Indeed, Wales failed to truly trouble Gibraltar goalkeeper Jaylan Hankins otherwise, despite registering 16 shots and having an xG of 1.13. 

    Wales did, though, equal their longest unbeaten run in Robert Page's tenure in all competitions (W4 D5), the last time they managed that was between September 2021 and March 2022 (nine games – W4 D5).

    Data Debrief: Page gives the kids a chance but away woes rumble on

    Away from home in all competitions, Wales have won just three of their 14 games under Page (D5 L6), while in that time they have only scored 3+ goals once before, against Belarus in September 2021. 

    Charlie Crew's 78th-minute introduction, meanwhile, saw him equal the record as the youngest player to play for Wales since Leeds United team-mate Ethan Ampadu against the Republic of Ireland in September at 17 years and 357 days old. 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.