More on Morrison

Date published: Friday, June 8, 2012

NORTH Wales forward Anthony Morrison could be forgiven for thinking he has one foot in the Oldham Roughyeds camp.

Oldham born and bred, 21-year-old Morrison works for a local electrical company owned and run by Phil Costin, coach of the Roughyeds’ under-18s squad and his former mentor at Saddleworth Rangers.

Among Morrison’s team mates in those early days at Saddleworth was Shaun Robinson, now a Roughyeds’ winger and, like Morrison, employed by Costin at Hillcrest Electrical Contracting.

“We all go back a long way together,” said Morrison. “Robbo and I are the best of mates and we both work for Phil, but we will be pulling in opposite directions on Sunday when Crusaders clash with the Roughyeds at Wrexham.”

Oldham, without a win for six matches, will be out to avenge the Welsh team’s 36-32 win at Whitebank five weeks ago when Morrison crowned an impressive show in the Crusaders’ second-row with a second-half try.

“He gave Robbo a lot of stick after that game,” said Costin, “but Robbo and the Oldham boys will be out to turn the tables this time and it should be an absolute cracker of a game.”

Robinson, out for a month with a damaged hand, faces a late fitness check along with Lucas Onyango (hamstring), Paul Noone (ankle), Paul Smith (hamstring) and Chris Clarke (shoulder).

Having played a full season in Australia for the Beach Pirates of Taree, New South Wales, Morrison will be out to pillage his hometown team’s hopes of getting their promotion challenge back on track.

It was shortly after he returned to England that he got a call from Crusaders’ assistant boss John Fieldhouse, inviting him to join the fledgling club in North Wales.

“John had coached me at county and England youth level”, recalled Morrison, who has Oldham Rugby in his blood as the son and grandson of two former players in Watersheddings days, Tony Morrison and Ray Clark respectively.

He added: “We played okay when we beat Roughyeds last time. It was a good result for us, and on a personal note it was great to score.

“Robbo and I had a bit of friendly banter afterwards, but I didn’t take on Phil, he’s the boss.

“This last few days Robbo and I have been on different jobs, but we’ve been texting each other and, one way or the other, you can bet that the banter will carry on into next week, whichever way the result goes.”

Roughyeds have confirmed that club skipper Neil Roden has fully recovered from the torn thigh muscle that has kept him sidelined for nine weeks, during which time Tony Benson’s men have drawn one and lost five league games.

The 31-year-old influential half-back has had a stomach bug all week, but he is expected to return to the side for the first time since he was injured in the opening minutes of the game at Rochdale on Good Friday.

Benson won’t finalise his line-up until training tomorrow.

He said: “The mini-break has done everyone a world of good and we are now looking forward to getting things back on track in the second half of the league campaign.

“Everyone has come back refreshed and ready to go and by the time we play Rochdale at Whitebank in a fortnight I should be able to pick from a full-strength squad for the first time in months.

“Crusaders have added Andy Gorski to their squad since we last played them, and we are expecting an even tougher test than last time.

“We are up for the challenge and ready for it.

“We are not thinking beyond the next game, but with nine games to go in a really tough competition, anything can happen and promotion is definitely there for the taking.

“We have a lot of unfinished business to attend to, and we need to start picking up three points at a time, not one.

“Until we lost 11 players to injury within a fortnight we were a formidable outfit. Injuries made life difficult, but we now seem to be emerging on the other side.”

Crusaders hope to be at full strength.

Danny Hulme, Jamie Durbin and Kris Wilkes are back after injury, while coach Clive Griffiths is hopeful that Chris Roets and Jono Smith will come successfully through late fitness checks.