Rugby League: Morley's slow train left on the sidelines

Great Britain v Australia:If Great Britain finish the job in the third Test at Elland Road on Sunday, it will, says Dave Hadfield, herald the coming of age of Adrian Morley.
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The Leeds second row started the series against Australia a fringe figure following mixed fortunes in last year's tour to the South Pacific, but his importance to Great Britain has steadily increased.

Morley was a substitute at Wembley, impressing with his sheer forcefulness when he came into the action, and last week at Old Trafford he started a Test for the first time, playing a full part in Britain's forward domination.

Morley had reason to fear his international career had ended before it had properly begun. His first Test appearance, as a substitute in the first Test in New Zealand last year, was a disaster, with a flash of indiscipline effectively losing the match.

"It was the best day of my life and the worst all rolled into one. I didn't know whether I'd ever get another chance, although I got back into the squad again for the third Test."

Even then Morley, at 20, could have been written off. Fortunately, two former Great Britain second rows of rare distinction had more faith in him than that.

The Great Britain manager, Phil Lowe, played in the Great Britain team that last beat Australian in a series in 1970 and is a long time admirer, who believes Morley has the ability to become the best of his generation in his old position, while the appointment of another of the breed, Andy Goodway, as the national team's coach has done Morley no harm either.

"It's a help to me having two greats in the position involved in the squad. They know what they want from a second row and they must see some of what they want in me," Morley said.

What any coach is looking for in his ideal second row is size, speed and aggression and Morley has all three.

"Self-control has been a bit of a problem for me in the past but I worked on that," he said.

"Last Saturday I thought we all kept our cool very well. When we put pressure on the Australians, they couldn't handle it and it was their discipline that started going.

"It was a completely different feeling from the previous week. We wanted to win more than they did. A few people had slagged us off during the week and we wanted to prove them wrong.

"But we know it is going to be twice as hard this week."

That is something the British forwards have been reminding themselves of all week, but there is no denying that some of the mystique of the opposition was broken down at Old Trafford.

"We could see in their eyes that they didn't know what to do when we started driving them back.

"Any suggestion that they eased off and let us win is garbage. They tried just as hard; the difference was that we stood up to them."

Morley believes the spirit forged on the disappointing tour last year has stood Great Britain in good stead. "This is virtually the same team that went away. We got to know each other really well and we now feel as though we have been together for a long time.

"That shows in the way we are working as a team in this series."

The Salford-born Morley whose his elder brother Chris went in the opposite direction and joined St Helens, admits to being far more nervous this week as the deciding Test approaches, as he is entitled to be, considering that Great Britain are on the verge of something they have not achieved for 27 years.

"I remember being taken by my dad to see the Test against Australia in 1986," he recalled. "I've watched videos of all the recent series when we've been beaten and often badly beaten. It would be wonderful to be part of the British team that changes that."

Morley has a lively sense of history, as befits someone who lists Bob Dylan as his favourite music. Maybe the great man's back catalogue could provide some inspiration as Morley and his team-mates try to reverse the flow of recent Test history. "The times they are A-Changin'" perhaps? For Adrian Morley they already have.

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