According to a story told once in New Zealand, a wing who went on to become a superstar found himself banned from a squad for a game in Wales because tour bosses struggled to spell his name.
Va’aiga Tuigamala eventually became the first £ 1million rugby player.
But in 1989, he was a 20-year-old who was still breaking at Test level.
Then he reportedly missed a spot on the squad for some strange reason after a New Zealand selection reunion that saw Grant Fox and Wayne Shelford summoned to team manager John Sturgeon’s hotel room before the Coach Alex Wyllie doesn’t “kick them out” and turns to Sturgeon and says, “What do you think?”
The New Zealand Herald claimed that Sturgeon later told a function, “I said, ‘I don’t know. You read them and I write them.
“I’m sitting there writing the squad and we got to the wingers, and he (Wyllie) said, ‘Tuigamala.’
“I said, ‘How do you spell that? He said, ‘Don’t worry, put Terry Wright in it’. “
Moral of the story?
Picking isn’t always the precise science that picking people like to pretend it is.
Often it boils down to a subjective opinion.
Jac Morgan can at least take comfort that his name isn’t that hard to spell.
But it will be interesting to see if he makes it into Wayne Pivac’s Welsh plans for the Six Nations.
Pivac, Stephen Jones, Jonathan Humphreys, Gethin Jenkins and contact zone coach Gareth Williams were all in Llanelli on Saturday to watch the Scarlets defeat the Ospreys 22-19 in the United Rugby Championship. The game was not of a high quality, but Morgan and another young Ospreys forward, Will Griffiths, took their chance to impress the national coaches.
Scott Williams won the official man of the match award, but the top player on the pitch was Morgan.
You were wondering if the Amman Valley product already had a bad game.
He certainly didn’t deserve to leave the field losing to Llanelli.
It was hard to count the number of times he was slapped on the back from his teammates for his efforts. On the night, according to ESPN statistics, he made 27 tackles and made 30 meters with the ball in hand. He’s also achieved a number of turnovers, one of which saw him take the ball off the Scarlets Williams captain, with impressive upper-body strength up front.
The Llanelli-based region had their own good performers in the back of Blade Thomson and Sione Kalamafoni, the latter being a formidable carrier, but with his low center of gravity and appetite for hard work, Morgan was the star.
It remains to be seen where that leaves it in the Wales pecking order.
Pivac has no shortage of openside contenders with Taine Basham and James Botham among them, but Justin Tipuric is yet to recover from injury, Josh Navidi is set to pick up and Josh Macleod left the field early Saturday night after taking a another bump.
Based on that evidence, Morgan must be there or roughly for a spot on Pivac’s squad for the Six Nations.
He might not have the Hollywood glamor of Basham, but Justin Tipuric himself has reportedly signed some of the defensive work of the former Welsh Under-20 captain at Parc y Scarlets and Morgan is improving his attacking game.
At 21, he has time for himself.
But his consistency sets him apart and Wales’ lingering injury issues give Pivac an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive by bringing Morgan into his squad. With twenty months into the next World Cup, such a call would give Wales head coach the chance to see if the youngster could face the next level of rugby.
It would be a surprise if he was caught out.
Perhaps Griffiths could be of interest to Pivac as well.
Described by Dan Lydiate last year as a “hell of a player,” the 6-foot-4, 16th 9-pound utility forward worked largely blind, but was second against the Scarlets in the middle. a myriad of Ospreys downtime.
He made 18 tackles, just two of 20 collectively managed by the other three starting locks in the West Wales Derby, and also covered over 20 yards with his portage.
Griffiths is the type of hybrid player Wayne Pivac said he is looking for who could come in handy in rugby tournaments with his ability to cover the back row and lock down. Potentially he could do a bench job for Wales with his versatility or even as a starter as he develops.
It wasn’t that long ago former Swansea rugby manager Richard Lancaster foresaw it for a great future, saying: ‘I don’t want to spoil it, but it has all the attributes you would want a future to have. Welsh captain to have.
“Not only is he a leader who is an athlete, he’s also very skillful and plays the game with a little bit of arrogance – great confidence, rather than arrogance.
“It is an exciting prospect.”
There was even a comparison to a young Alun Wyn Jones. “The will is in that mold,” Lancaster said. “He’s a leader who shows the way. He just needs to mature, like any child, and spend time in the game. He could turn into something special.”
While Sam Lousi caught the Scarlets’ attention, Griffiths hasn’t damaged his reputation at Llanelli. Known to the Ospreys for his humility and roots, he is the last person to boast, but more and more others are doing the work for him.
“You are watching Will Griffiths,” Shane Williams said during Premier Sports’ commentary on the game.
“He’s a player who can play in the back row or in the second row. (Players like that) are worth their weight in gold.
“That’s probably why they’re experimenting with him there.”
Others who performed well included Johnny McNicholl, although he was edged out by Luke Morgan as the Ospreys wing crossed for a try. McNicholl himself crossed for two touchdowns and created another. He will be in the plans of the Six Nations of Pivac, and rightly so.
Collecting his second straight Man of the Game award, Williams also finished well in credit, while Rhys Webb scored two touchdowns as he battled hard on a field where the Ospreys have not won a competitive game since. 2015.
The Ospreys looked set for the win at 19-12 ahead, only to have their handling of the game let them down as they threw risky passes while playing the percentages might have been more advisable.
The hosts were also more clinical with the ball in hand. with McNicholl embodying their ability to seize the opportunities that come their way.
Pivac would be slightly disappointed with the overall fare, but the efforts of Morgan, Griffiths, McNicholl, Webb and Williams meant it was not a wasted evening for him and his coaching staff.
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