Morley making way for the main course

The year 1997 has much to do to top 1996 for Adrian Morley, but such is the potential of the Leeds second-row forward that it could prove the main course following the appetizer.

A year ago, Morley was an 18-year-old the limit of whose ambitions was to establish himself in the Leeds first team. Not only did he do that - emerging as just about Leeds' only consistent performer during a miserable first Super League season - but he also toured with Great Britain in the autumn, when his form was one of the few bright spots on that ill-starred trip.

"All I started off wanting to do was to cement my place in the Leeds first team," he says. "The next thing I was in there and people were telling me that I was playing well.

"I got into the England team and I couldn't believe that - and then I found myself on the tour. People had told me that I'd got a chance, but I didn't think I was playing that well."

But Morley made that tour party on merit and should show the benefit of the experience during the second Super League season. "Playing with all those top-class players, you're going to learn a lot from them. I believe I've come back a much better player."

Morley was particularly grateful for the support and encouragement of the tour party's most experienced international - Denis Betts, like him a second-rower and a Salford lad. "That meant a lot to me, with Denis being from the same area and playing the same position. He was a tremendous help to me on tour."

As a Salfordian, Morley might have been expected to gravitate to a Lancashire club, like his brother, Chris, who plays in St Helens' pack. He was not short of offers, but Leeds, and the silver tongue of their then manager, Doug Laughton, lured him over the Pennines to Headingley.

"Doug came to our house and he's a very persuasive man. But it was when I went to the ground and saw the facilities that I knew that was where I wanted to be."

What Morley could not have known two and a half years ago was that Leeds were about to lose the unwanted tag of bridesmaids - but only because wedding invitations were about to dry up completely. Last season, the first of Super League and his first as an established first-teamer, saw them win only six games and finish above only Workington Town and Paris St-Germain.

One man who could not be blamed for that was Morley who, in an inversion of the normal logic, often seemed to be carrying more experienced forwards who were under-performing. He believes it will be very different this time. There is a new regime at Leeds, under the new chief executive, Gary Hetherington, and, he says, a new atmosphere at pre-season training.

"There have been some major new signings and a player like Richie Blackmore is going to be a big boost for us. There is just a new feeling at training; a lot more confidence around the place than there was last year. And that crowd of 14,000 for the friendly against Halifax on Boxing Day shows how much potential there is at the place."

If 1997 can easily be infinitely better than its predecessor for the club, there is only one thing about his own performances in 1996 that Morley would change. His one source of regret is the incident that cost Great Britain the first Test in New Zealand, just minutes after Morley had come on to make his debut.

The young forward was sin-binned - harshly, it seemed at the time - for holding down in the tackle and, in the eight minutes remaining, the Kiwis scored the two tries that gave tham a 17-12 victory. "I still can't bring myself to look at the tape of that match," he says. "It went from being the best day of my life to being one of the worst."

One of Morley's staunchest supporters, the Great Britain manager, Phil Lowe, believes that the misadventure exposed the one real flaw in the player's current capabilities. It might have something to do with carrying so much responsibility at Leeds, but Morley is guilty at times of over- enthusiasm.

One of the many things he will have learned on tour is to temper that tendency. Once he absorbs that lesson and displays the cool head to go with his speed, strength and remarkable agility, Leeds and Great Britain will have a world-class second-rower at their disposal for a decade or more.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam