Gloucester count cost of Morgan's battling spirit

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The Independent Online

Olly Morgan, one of the crèche-load of striking young talents who threaten to transport Gloucester into the new world from their traditional home in Jurassic Park, will miss the West Country club's European Challenge Cup final against London Irish on Sunday week after fracturing his cheekbone during the glorious Premiership defeat by Wasps at Kingsholm last weekend. Morgan underwent surgery 24 hours after the contest and is not expected to resume contact work until July.

The 20-year-old full-back was injured in the early minutes of the second half, yet insisted on completing the game, although there is no suggestion that he complicated matters by continuing to play. Had he stayed fit, Morgan could have expected a summer tour with England Under-21s at the very least, or even a Churchill Cup trip to North America with England A.

"It was very brave of him to play on when he was obviously in pretty serious discomfort," said Dean Ryan, the Gloucester coach, who discovered all there was to know about such things during his long career at the fiery end of the game. "It epitomises the spirit we have within this group of players. Olly was in there right to the end, fighting for the cause. That is a hugely impressive characteristic in a young player."

Leeds now understand the full implications of their relegation from the Premiership, having learnt that a clear majority of their big-name players will leave the club this summer, if they have not done so already. With Justin Marshall bound for the Ospreys and Jordan Crane, the most coveted loose forward of the younger generation, joining Leicester, the Yorkshiremen have openly stated that a further 13 members of the squad are to mount their bikes and ride away from Headingley.

These include the Lions full-back Iain Balshaw, the Scottish internationals Gordon Ross and Gordon Bulloch, the long-serving lock Tom Palmer, the highly rated centre Chris Bell and two of the hottest young backs developed by the successful Leeds academy, Danny Care and David Doherty. However, the club captain, Stuart Hooper, has opted to stay put.

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