Rugby: Morgan set to make 150th appearance for Cornish Pirates
CHRIS Morgan will make his 150th appearance for the Cornish Pirates on Sunday if selected against London Welsh in the Greene King Championship clash, and the Somerset-born flanker is "delighted" to be reaching this landmark in his career, writes Dick Straughan.
The 32-year-old missed virtually all of last season through injury but has played 15 times so far this term, leading the side on nine occasions in the absence of Gavin Cattle.
And with the television cameras due at the Mennaye Field for Sunday's game against the promotion contenders, Morgan admits that he would love the opportunity to do it again.
"I'm really pleased to be reaching the 150 game mark because it is quite something to play that many games for one club," he said. "It's always good to lead the team out and to do it again on Sunday would be even more special because no one wants to not perform on television."
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Morgan first pulled on a Pirates shirt in the autumn of 2005 when he scored four tries in five games for the club during a short loan spell. He was re-signed from Newbury in 2008 by then head coach Mark Hewitt and has gone from strength to strength.
His performance in the 2012 Championship semi-final 2nd leg at Bristol when he played much of the game with a broken arm has gone down in club folklore, and looking back on his time at the club Morgan admits that there are many good memories but picked a few for special mention.
He said: "The British & Irish Cup final win was really good, as were the two Championship finals. I would also have to pick beating Bristol in the first leg of that semi-final and there was also an away win at Bedford in the play-offs when we had to come from behind. They were all special."
Morgan has remained a stalwart of the club's back row, while many former colleagues have moved on to play at higher levels, and paid tribute to several former Pirates.
"Hopps (Matt Hopper) had a really good season here and Cookie (Rob Cook) was really consistent when you think about where he had come from," he added. "Then there was Blair Cowan and Johnny Bentley, but Wardy (Dave Ward) was really outstanding."
He continued: "Wardy is a tremendously talented player who could do things that others couldn't, even if his line-out throwing sometimes left a bit to be desired!
"There were times when you just couldn't believe how he did things – one minute he might miss a line-out and then he's turning over ball at the next breakdown. He was really driven, had a great work rate and was a tremendous character in the squad."
In terms of the current Pirates squad, Morgan agrees that recent results have been disappointing but doesn't believe that there is any cause for alarm.
"We have had a bit of a reality check and perhaps that was always likely to happen," he said. "We went really well in the early part of the season but have dropped off a bit since Christmas.
"You have to remember that this is a different league after Christmas with some teams pushing on while others, like us, try to maintain the level we are at.
"Some of our recent performances haven't been acceptable but we have got a lot of young guys at the club who have not played a lot of pro rugby. Once we get through this spell it will probably stand us in good stead for coming seasons."
Former Pirates centre Tom Luke is enjoying continued success with his coaching career on the west coast of Canada, with the news that he has been appointed to join the BC Bears team staff for the 2014 season.
The 30-year-old Yorkshireman spent three years with the Pirates where he played in a variety of roles within the three-quarters and ended his final season at the club also acting as fly-half.
Luke's final appearance in Pirates colours came in the second leg of the Championship play-off final at Worcester Warriors in May 2011 when he replaced Gavin Cattle late in the game.
From the Pirates he moved on to Doncaster Knights and had a short spell at London Welsh last year before heading to Canada to take up the post of head coach at Premier League side UBC Old Boy Ravens in Vancouver, a club with existing Pirates connections.
Canada international lock Mike Burak joined the Cornish side from the Ravens in 2008 while former scrum-half, and fellow international, Ed Fairhurst now plays for them, having left the Pirates in the summer of 2009.
Luke also works alongside the Canada Under-20 international squad as a Development Group assistant coach, and he is delighted to be linking up with BC Bears ahead of the 125th Anniversary season of the British Columbia Rugby Union.
He said: "The opportunity to coach the BC Bears really appealed to me as it means not just working with the best players in British Columbia but also some of the best players in Canada.
"I'll be here until 2015 and we'll see what happens after that. I came here to leave my comfort zone and work hard at developing my coaching career and that's exactly what I'm doing at the moment, working hard and learning a lot."