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Bristol’s Luke Morahan ready for war now the honeymoon is over

By Neale Harvey

Aussie wing wizard Luke Morahan says Bristol are braced for a Premiership backlash as they aim to prove their early fine form is no fluke.

Morahan has been at the forefront of an impressive start against a quintet of established top-flight teams, which has seen the Ashton Gate side defeat Bath and Harlequins and push Gloucester, North-ampton and champions Saracens close.

But ahead of today’s clash at relegation-threatened Worcester, the former Wallaby admits Bristol are no longer an unknown quantity.

Morahan said: “I think we’ve proved to the competition that we belong here. We wanted to come in and really stamp our authority and all our games could have gone either way, which is encouraging from our point of view.

“It’s made teams more aware of us and now they’re thinking they have to take us a bit more seriously. That makes us need to step up because once someone’s aware of you there’s no hiding place.

“The honeymoon is over but we’re ready for that challenge.”

Far from being relegation patsies, Bristol have played a full part in a rip-roaring start to the Premiership season that produced 192 tries in the opening 30 matches at a record-breaking average of 6.4 tries per game.

The 11-try thriller against Northampton two weeks ago highlighted that spirit of adventure and former Reds and Western Force man Morahan dismisses any notion of Northern Hemisphere rugby being boring as clap-trap.

He observed: “This is one of the best competitions in the world now, with such great players and you’ve got to expect the tries to come flooding.

“Just being at Bristol with Pat Lam in charge, things were always going to be pretty exciting because he’s likes to play that way.

“But the Premiership has definitely changed over the past five or six years to encompass a more expansive game and that’s one of the reasons I came here.

“It’s a bit different tactically and the set-piece and kicking are more important here, but it creates much more of an all-round game, which I like.”

At a time when Aussie rugby is on life support and in desperate need of revival, Morahan, 28, is in no hurry to go back and try to add to his three caps.

He explained: “I’m very happy here and the way we’re playing makes it more enjoyable. You don’t like to see what’s going on back home but I’ve got at least one more season here after this one and although it would have been nice to get a few more Aussie caps, I’m not thinking of any could- or should-haves.

“It was just time to try something different and a lot of my best mates like James Horwill, Ben Tapuai, Jono Lance and James Hanson are in England for the same reason.”

Wallaby: Luke Morahan in action against France in 2016 (photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

Having averaged crowds of 17,000 over their first three home matches, Bristol head to Sixways looking to end the first block of league games on a high and banish any lingering doubts over their ability to extend their top-flight stay.

Morahan said: “We’ve focussed pretty hard on this first six weeks of the Premiership so this is just the bookend of that.

“We want to go into Europe having had a good win under our belts and it just so happens its against Worcester, who are beneath us in the table.

“It’s a big game for both teams, but if we could take three wins from our first six matches it would give us something really substantial to build on. Two from six wouldn’t be ugly but our ambitions this season extend a lot higher than that.”

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