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Welsh centre unfazed by Boks

2015-10-16 17:56
Tyler Morgan (Getty Images)

London - Up against two-time champions South Africa in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup at Twickenham.


That's the nonchalant reaction of 20-year-old Tyler Morgan, who will feature for Wales at outside center on Saturday in what promises to be a memorable third international cap.

"It doesn't get much bigger for him," Wales kicking coach Neil Jenkins said on Friday at the captain's run.

"He's a fantastic young talent, confident young kid. He trained pretty well over the summer (at Welsh camps) in Switzerland and Doha, and played pretty well against Fiji.

"I've seen him in training this week and he's in a pretty good place. I have got no doubt he'll be fine tomorrow."

In a backline depleted by injuries, Morgan has been the center of a debate in Wales on whether he or the vastly more experienced James Hook should fill the No 13 jersey. Wales coach Warren Gatland settled it Thursday at the team announcement, putting his faith in Morgan and saying it wasn't much of a debate to him.

Morgan's coach at Newport Gwent Dragons, Lyn Jones, pointed out than one of the young midfielder's virtues was poise under pressure.

Wales' youngest squad member agreed.

"I get over things pretty easily," Morgan said.

It's usually the first time he does anything that it's the hardest.

"I always seem to get chucked in the deep end," Morgan said.

"My first game in the (Welsh) Premiership (for Newport) was a Cross Keys derby, and my first PRO12 was (Welsh derby) Judgement Day, and my first international was Ireland, who were second in the world at the time.

"They have all been great opportunities, then after that first time, I think I am a lot more composed."

He doesn't mean to come off as boastful or trite. He really isn't fazed about the magnitude of the match, nor whom he faces. He's played against Springboks midfielders Damian de Allende and Jesse Kriel before at youth level. He respects them, but also believes they can be attacked.

"They still have a bit of inexperience," he said without irony.

What Morgan can barely believe is playing alongside winger George North, whom he met for the first time after winning and scoring a try in the Welsh Schools Cup final in 2011. North was there to shake hands with the teenagers.

"If someone had said then what would be happening now, I would have bitten their hand off," Morgan said. "Now I am playing with him on the weekend. It is pretty unreal."


South Africa:

15 Willie le Roux, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Fourie du Preez (captain), 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Schalk Burger, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Willem Alberts, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Jan Serfontein.


15 Gareth Anscombe, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Gethin Jenkins.

Substitutes: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Tom Francis, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 James Hook

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