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He’s alright, Jac – Captain Morgan to lead from the Front

Jac Morgan will captain Wales on his World Cup debut against Fiji on Sunday – and looks certain to continue the comparisons being made with Sam Warburton.

Like Warburton in 2011, Morgan is a player in his early 20s leading his country into a tournament where few fancy them to do all that well.

But like Warburton 12 years ago, too, Morgan is a back row forward with leadership qualities who can help his team confound those predictions.

“It is great for Jac to captain the side. What he has done for the Ospreys and when he has had an opportunity in a Welsh shirt has been brilliant,” Wales centre George North says of Morgan.

“I see the similarities (with Warburton) in that he is not a talking captain, he is a doing captain. Jac is very much “Follow me and I will do it”.

“It has been good to see him mature into that role of stepping up. For him to get that opportunity is a huge honour.”

Wales’ squad for Fiji contains a nice mix of youth and experience. Alongside side rookies like captain Morgan and his nine fellow World Cup debutants, coach Warren Gatland can call on experience in the likes of Taulupe Faletau, fly-half Dan Biggar, centre North and full-back Liam Williams.

Morgan almost packed in professional rugby three years ago to concentrate on his apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer.

In the end, he stuck with a modest contract at the Ospreys and now that decision has been vindicated as he prepares to lead his country into a World Cup on Sunday in Bordeaux.

The all-action flanker is certain to be a key performer for Wales as they bid to slow down the Fijians and impose a more structured game-plan.

Player markets for Morgan, including first tryscorer, most tackles made etc, are available with DragonBet.

The flying Fijians, who have twice reached the quarter-finals in 1987 and 2007, always bring a squad packed with scintillating running and offloading ability but have struggled to translate that into consistent knockout round results.

The historic win against England saw Fiji outplay their hosts in the rain with some smart kicking and disciplined decision-making in a sign they may finally be ready to bring the grit as well as the glamour and progress further this time.

But they were dealt a cruel blow however earlier this week with the loss of New Zealand-born flyhalf Caleb Muntz for the tournament due to a knee injury sustained in training, meaning a last-minute reshuffle will be needed.

Head coach Gatland said: “The squad has worked incredibly hard over the last few months and has been preparing well for Fiji in the last couple of weeks.

“Fiji are a good side with some great individual athletes and they play with a lot more structure now than maybe they have done traditionally.

“We’ve had some good clarity about what we want to achieve and the way we want to play on the weekend. It’s going to be an exciting contest on Sunday and one that we are relishing.

“The boys are looking sharp, there’s a great environment in this group – players working for each other, enjoying each other’s company. We’re in a good place and can’t wait to get out there and get our Rugby World Cup 2023 campaign underway.”

Wales team to face Fiji at Stade de Bordeaux (Sunday, September 10, 8pm GMT, live on ITV and S4C):

15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Jac Morgan (captain), 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Gareth Thomas.

Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Dillon Lewis,19 Dafydd Jenkins, 20 Tommy Refell, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Rio Dyer.

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