Ben Morgan is relishing the prospect of a titanic clash with Thomas Waldrom when Exeter Chiefs arrive at Kingsholm on Friday night.
Gloucester Rugby have endured a poor run of form recently, losing four league games on the spin as well as crashing out of the European Rugby Challenge Cup against Newport Gwent Dragons, and England No.8 Morgan has his sights on laying down a marker against Aviva Premiership Rugby’s leading try-scorer.
Waldrom scored twice in Chiefs’ last-play 25-24 loss to Wasps in their Champions Cup quarter-final and has scored 13 tries in the league so far this term for Rob Baxter’s second-placed side.
But Morgan feels he is more than a match for the free-scoring Kiwi-born No.8 and said if he could better Waldrom, a victory for David Humphreys’ men would follow.
“It is a big challenge, Thomas Waldrom is in a fine vein of form down at the Chiefs, I think he has found a new lease of life since signing from Leicester and he is certainly a talisman for them,” the 31-times-capped international said.
“It is up to personal battles – win your one on ones – so for me it is about trying to get the better of him.
“I enjoy it, as an individual, trying to beat your opposite number and putting a statement down. I think that is very important, particularly this week as he is such a key figure in their attack play and in their team.
“If you’re able to nullify his threats, you go a long way to helping us win that game.
“We’re very lucky in the Premiership to have some phenomenal No.8s that I get to come up against, which is brilliant.”
The 27-year-old back-rower was happy to admit that the Cherry and Whites had dropped off significantly since claiming a fifth straight Aviva Premiership Rugby victory against Wasps in Round 15.
Humphreys’ outfit will now be looking to avoid their fifth consecutive loss, but are boosted by the return of Billy Twelvetrees, Jeremy Thrush and Ross Moriarty.
Morgan was insistent that eighth-placed Gloucester’s fate remains very much in their own hands and they are more than capable of challenging the top-six teams.
“Over the past few weeks the performances haven’t been up to scratch and that hasn’t been down to the opposition, that has been down to us,” he said.
“Ultimately we’re a team that have done very well this season, we’ve beaten great teams and we have the capability to go and do that. It is all about putting performances in.
“Quite clearly there is no great gulf between us and the Champions Cup teams because we have gone and beaten most of them this season.”
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