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In-Depth: Morahan making waves as he begins Bristol Rugby journey

Luke Morahan accepts he may have to modify his outdoor lifestyle after swapping Western Australia for the West Country, but insists his attacking on-field approach is here to stay.

The three-cap Wallaby’s summer switch has seen him trade an Australian summer for a British winter - and although adjustments will be required, Morahan says meteorological conditions won’t dictate his approach on or off the pitch.

“The only thing that might change is the weather and that will obviously be different for me, but the mind-set of how to play the game is very similar,” he said.

“I’m pretty happy to play across the backline and with the game plan we’re playing here; I don’t mind where I play. Everyone seems to be really involved and getting a lot of touches, so that suits my game.

“Away from the pitch, I really enjoy outdoor activities and adventure activities; surfing, hiking, canoeing, fishing, all that sort of stuff, so I’ll have to maybe alter my hobbies a little bit due to the weather, but talking to a few guys, there’s still some surf about in parts of Wales and Cornwall.

“As for fishing, I want to get up and do a bit of Salmon fishing in Scotland, so anything outdoors I love and I’m pretty happy to try."

Luke Morahan takes on the Bath defence during pre-season (JMP UK).

“A couple of the guys from Wales have said they get out and surf as much as they can, weather dependent. I’m used to surfing in board shorts all year round, so having to put a big wetsuit on might be a bit different, but I’ll definitely give it a go.”

One thing that won’t require any adaptation is the club’s programme of community engagement, with Morahan citing grassroots participation as a particular strength of the Australian game.

“Back in Australia there’s a big focus on the community and I think Pat’s shown in the first few months he’s been here, there’s a big community focus at Bristol as well,” he said.

“Having the guys get out amongst the community and try and make the local community proud of what we’re doing off the field as well as on the field, it’s really important.

“At the last two teams I’ve played for there’s also been a big focus on grassroots rugby, so it’s pretty similar here.”

“Back in Australia there’s a big focus on the community and I think Pat’s shown in the first few months he’s been here, there’s a big community focus at Bristol as well."

Luke Morahan

But for all of Australian rugby’s strengths, the decision to axe the Western Force from the country’s Super Rugby offering has proved a highly unpopular one.

The 27-year-old has described the decision as ‘disappointing’ and ‘embarrassing’ and says he feels for the supporters of his former club.

“It’s hugely disappointing; I’m very saddened and in all honesty, embarrassed to have seen what’s happened over there,” he said.

“I think it’s the wrong decision and I think as Australian rugby, we’ve let ourselves down at a lot of levels and on a lot of fronts.

“I think we had an opportunity to do something special and we’ve let that slip over the last couple of years. It’s going to take a long time to get back to where we were with Australian rugby 10 or 12 years ago.

Luke Morahan in action for former club, Western Force (Getty Images).

“I’m really saddened for the locals in WA, because they’re very passionate supporters and as a team, we were one of the best supported in Australia, so on that front, it really puzzles me as well.

“Hopefully, rugby in WA still goes strong in future and you never know what could happen.

“The outlook of rugby in Australia is going to suffer from not having a team in WA, because it’s such a massive landscape and has brought through some unbelievable talent in the last couple of years, with players coming through and getting Wallaby caps. It’s going to be detrimental to rugby in Australia." 

The outlook at Bristol Rugby is a far more positive one and Luke Morahan’s presence only serves to fuel the zeal for success ahead of the new season.

Surfing opportunities may be limited throughout the British winter, but the Wallaby is only too happy to be riding the crest of a wave at Bristol as the club begins a new era under Pat Lam.