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Pretorius has arrived in XV-man game

SPOTLIGHT: As we reflect on the weekend that was, we highlight the players who went above and beyond for their teams in the United Rugby Championship.

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JC Pretorius, flank of the Lions, picked up his second successive Player of the Match award as he took a key role in the Lions’ eye-catching 44-21 victory over recent league leaders Glasgow in Johannesburg.

With fellow flank Ruan Venter being red-carded just before the break, swiftly followed by the sin-binning of No.8 Francke Horn, Pretorius was a one-man back row for a spell, but nothing seemed to be beyond this tireless breakaway.

The 26-year-old from the Mpumalanga province was into everything and had not one, not two, but three involvements in the try of the match on 57 minutes.

He produced a pair of exquisite one-handed passes out of the side door in the build-up and then, there he was, providing textbook openside support to take the inside scoring pass from centre Erich Cronje.

The highly skilled Pretorius was part of the South African Sevens team that won the gold medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and he is now really making his mark in the 15-a-side version of the sport.

Morgan the Magnificent

When two greats of the Welsh game like Shane Williams and Justin Tipuric describe a player as “superb” and “amazing”, that’s praise indeed.

Those were their plaudits for Ospreys No. 8 Morgan Morris after he produced yet another Man of the Match performance in his team’s 26-13 victory over Dragons in Swansea.

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Morris has arguably been the most consistent player in Welsh rugby over the last three or four seasons, but he remains uncapped having not received a call up to the national squad.

His skipper Tipuric, who knows a thing or two about back row play, can’t speak highly enough of him, saying: “He has been amazing for years and years now. He is just class.”

Wales wing legend Williams was commentating on the derby for Premier Sports and spoke in glowing terms about Morris’ perseverance.

“He’s just been superb,” he said.

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“He hasn’t been selected for the Welsh team. It looks like Warren Gatland is not interested at the moment.

“But what I like about him is the fact he still keeps his head up, keeps working hard in training week-in, week-out and keeps getting the performances.

“It’s the only way you can prove a coach wrong and you’ve got to be proud of the fact he’s doing that. He’s been great.”

Adding his thoughts on Morris’ international chances, Ospreys coach Toby Booth said: “We feel he is getting closer all the time and that’s down to the work he has put in.

“He’s got physically fitter and we are starting to see the fruits of his labour. We are starting to see visibility on both sides of the ball.

“If he is not putting the red shirt on, he is putting the white shirt on and we know what he is going to deliver.”

Morris was a rampaging presence with ball in hand against the Dragons, while he also showed his skill set with a magnificent offload to send scrumhalf Reuben Morgan-Williams over just before the break.

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