Emerging Ireland winger Niall Morris has enjoyed a stellar season with Leicester Tigers and now has his sights set on victory in the IRB Tbilisi Cup.
The humble Dubliner who, in his own words, ‘played a little more than he expected’ for Aviva Premiership side Leicester Tigers this year, was a stand-out performer for the eventual English league champions.
“I had a good season with Leicester in terms of game-time and to play in the final and to win it was great for us,” said Niall Morris, speaking from the Emerging Ireland camp in Tbilisi, Georgia.
“Our target was to get to the final first and foremost. To then go on and win it was very pleasing and the whole squad was delighted.”
The winger’s strong form for Leicester – he scored eight tries in 27 outings for the club – saw him rewarded with a call-up to the Emerging Ireland squad for the first IRB Tbilisi Cup.
“Obviously it is brilliant to be recognised by the selectors at home and to get the opportunity to come to Tbilisi has been really good. We had a good win (20-15) on Friday night against a really strong Georgian side and we go into another difficult encounter with the South Africa President’s XV.”
The Georgian Lelos posed a very tricky start for Allen Clarke’s charges and with seven minutes remaining in the match, the young Irish side found themselves 15-14 down.
“We knew going into the game that they are strong, heavy men from 1 through to 15 and we knew we had to be strong, defend well for large parts and when we had the ball try and move them around as much as we could,” explained the 24-year-old Morris, who can also play at full-back.
“I think we did that to a certain extent but they put us under a lot of pressure and I thought we did well to keep ourselves in the game, take our opportunities when they were available and come away with the win.”
It does not get any easier for Morris and his team-mates as they prepare to take on the South Africa President’s XV in round two, a side that also enjoyed a 37-9 victory over Uruguay on the opening day of the tournament.
“We watched their game against Uruguay and they looked very strong. A bit like the Georgians, they are big and strong and as their tries showed, they can also move the ball wide.
“We need to stop their main threats which are their big back row forwards. If we can stop them getting ‘go forward’ ball we will hope to put them under a bit of pressure. If we allow them the go forward ball they need, they will be very difficult to stop.”
A win today would leave Emerging Ireland as ‘odds on’ favourites to claim the trophy which was the pre-tournament goal set by the coaching staff.
“At the beginning of the week we were told to treat it as a quarter-final, semi-final and final – look to win every game,” added the Leinster Academy graduate and former Ireland Under-20 international.
“If we can do that we give ourselves the greatest opportunity to be looked at in the best light from the senior Irish team.”
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