Scarlets No8 Ben Morgan will move from Parc y Scarlets to join Gloucester in the 2012/13 season to strengthen and focus his international ambitions with England by playing in the English Premiership.
The 23-year-old Bristol-born No 8, who played his initial club rugby with Dursley Rugby Club in Gloucestershire has signed a three-year contractwith Aviva Premiership side Gloucester Rugby.
He has three caps with England in this season’s Six Nations against Scotland, Italy and Wales and now in his third season with the Scarlets became the region’s first-ever capped English international.
Morgan said it had been a very difficult decision to move from the Scarlets one year early from the end of his contract paying tribute to the West Wales region saying he owed the Scarlets, “so much credit for where I am right now”.
The Scarlets forward has made impressive progress since he joined the West Wales region in May 2009 and has appeared 42 times in a Scarlets shirt with 15 points. He announced his intention to make himself available on an international level for his home country of England in January this year, after also qualifying for Wales on the grounds of three years residency.
Scarlets no 8 Ben Morgan said: “It has been a staggering season for me and I feel privileged and honoured to have been able to represent both the Scarlets and England. I’m grateful for the opportunities handed to me by the Scarlets to play the top-flight club rugby which led me to international selection and my dream to play for England.
“As a proud Englishman, I feel it’s best that I now take my club career forward within the Aviva Premiership and my home country and I am pleased to be joining Gloucester next season as a club with similar values and ambitions as the Scarlets.
“I want to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the coaches and back-room staff at the Scarlets who’ve been a huge influence and support and helped me achieve so much in a short space of time. So much credit should go to them for what I have achieved.
“It’s been a brilliant three years at Parc y Scarlets and living in Llanelli where supporters have been so loyal, welcoming and supportive.
“Being a Scarlet has a lot more to it than just simply pulling on a jersey and running onto the field every weekend as anyone who’s played for them knows; there’s a meaning, heritage and culture and a strong set of values at the core of the environment. That’s always going to stay with me in the future.”
“We’ve got an exciting end of season ahead as we’re still in the final race in all three of our competitions. I’m looking forward to coming back to Parc y Scarlets after the Six Nations and will give it my all in the challenge to win some silverware and celebrate my time with a great team.”
Head of Scarlets Rugby Nigel Davies said:“Ben has achieved a great deal in his rugby career since joining us, he’s a committed professional and worked hard in development with us. We’ve discussed his future career with him over the past year and supported his future aspirations.
“He’s a thoughtful person and has taken his time to consider the best options given his international aspirations going forward in his future career. Ben is also a proud Englishman, which we have complete respect for and understand his desire to focus on his England career and to return home for the next stage of his career.
“We’ve worked with Ben to consider all options available with a number of English clubs very keen to find a way for him to be playing for them.
“We wish him well within England and with Gloucester who we have an excellent working relationship with, they are a good a team of people with values similar to our own and we’re comfortable with the move which works in a rugby context for all concerned and for both businesses.”
“It has been a privilege to be part of Ben's progression. His contribution to Scarlets performance, as part of a squad of players that supports each other, has been considerable and we are all very proud of what he has achieved.”
Morgan started his career at Dursley RFC in Gloucestershire before joining Merthyr RFC and played for Cardiff Blues U20 before signing for Scarlets.