BEN MORGAN speaks to RM….
By any clubs standards finishing 9th in the Premiership is not something to shout about, especially when you are Gloucester Rugby Club with a plethora of Internationals and fanatical fans who pack The Shed every home game. However, amid the gloom one player in particular, BEN MORGAN, was able to hold his head up and be counted after putting in quite a few shifts at the coal face. RUGBY MONTHLY asked him for his assessment of last season and his thoughts on this one when we met up with him…..
RM – “I guess you would be the first to admit that last season didn’t go to plan and it would be fair to say that the fans would be right to be disappointed?”
BM – “Absolutely, there is no getting away from the fact. We didn’t perform as well as we know we were capable of doing. We knew we were in games for long periods of time but weren’t able to cross the finishing line as winners and that wasn’t acceptable. That is something we have worked on a lot over the pre-season and definitely something John Ackermann has addressed. The fans at the club are absolutely amazing but they certainly let you know when things aren’t going right! They are very loyal and I think that’s their prerogative, but I think the fans are seeing a difference in concentration this season!”
RM – “It has been well documented that the club have had some issues on and off the field in terms of ownership and coaching set up, has that been addressed now and do the players feel more settled?”
BM – “There is definitely more stability around the whole club now. There was a bit of an imbalance with rumours going around about whether a new owner was going to come in or not, and what was happening around coaching, but that has been addressed now and there is definitely a positive vibe around the club now that everyone feels and has bought into. The club made it very clear in the close season that anyone who didn’t WANT to be at the club wouldn’t be! It’s sounds brutal but that is the way it should be. Everyone here now has bought into the vision the club has for the future, the issues off the field have been resolved, and we all know what we want to achieve.”
RM – “You look very fit at the moment so you have obviously been training hard, are you hoping to impress the England selectors again this season and were you disappointed not to be included in the squad that went to Argentina last year?”
BM-“I remember vividly playing my first game for England on 4th February 2012, it was everything you could expect and I was hugely honoured and privileged. Those were incredible times and I thoroughly enjoyed playing under Stuart Lancaster. Injury struck though and I broke my leg in January 2015 which put paid to International duties for a while, however, I was very fortunate to be selected again for the England squad for the 2015 Rugby World Cup. We all know how that finished though! In terms of Argentina, I would have really liked to have gone but for now all my focus is on Gloucester Rugby to build on what we have here. My club rugby MUST come first and if we are all performing to our highest level then International honours will come for many different players at the club, me included possibly!”
RM – “Did the Coaches set out their expectations for this season?”
BM – “I think we are all honest enough to know that last season was unacceptable so they don’t need to be too specific in what they expect. Beating Exeter on the opening day was a massive boost and left the whole club buzzing for days. But professional sport can be brutal and we let ourselves down again by not but following that up at Harlequins. That’s what we need, more consistency in games and throughout the season. We have worked hard and are all confident we can do it. Johan Ackermann knows what we are capable of achieving and will certainly be committed to bringing out the best in all of us.
RM – “So outside of rugby, what does Ben Morgan like to do to switch off and wind down?”
BM – “To be honest I’m setting up a couple of business at the moment as we speak! One of them is a scaffolding business that will be called – Number 8 Scaffolding! That keeps me pretty busy outside of rugby. You have to look forward and to the future when you might have to stop playing. While I am here I am 100% committed to Gloucester Rugby but I have to be realistic about things. Running my own business after my playing days are over will be a challenge but it will be exciting. My family also keep me grounded and rather busy outside of the club. I have one child at the moment with another one due! All in all, plenty to keep me going ha ha.”