It was a moment that Bristol Bears fans will not forget in a hurry. On the opening day of last season against Bath at Ashton Gate, the home side led by just two points heading into a nervy final seven minutes.
Australian winger Luke Morahan then stepped and swerved his way through the heart of the Bath defence, before locating Alapati Leiua who touched down for the all-important match-winning try.
Fast forward a year and Morahan is back in the starting lineup for the opening day of this season on Friday evening. Once again against Bath at Ashton Gate and this time in front of a record-breaking crowd.
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Bristol Bears director of rugby Pat Lam has named Charles Piutau among his starting 15, with Mat Protheroe earning a spot in the backline after his impressive performances in the Premiership Cup.
Four homegrown players are also in the starting lineup, with Joe Joyce, Dave Attwood, Callum Sheedy and Andy Uren all selected, and fellow Bristolian Yann Thomas among the replacements.
“Bath was one of the pinnacles of last year for us,” Morahan told Bristol24/7. “It’ll be another big occasion and something I think we’re all ready for.”
“Bath last year was a big one for me because I came over here wanting to play Premiership rugby,” added Morahan, who joined Bristol ahead of the 2017/18 campaign and has three Australia caps.
“And then to be able to do that in the first game and play well was was something that I was striving towards as a goal.”
What about this season for the 28-year-old? “Consistency is a big one for me. Not having last season being a one-off. I want to come in and go, ‘this is where I belong’.”
Morahan said that Bristol is “an exciting club to be part of”.
He said: “Last season really felt like the start of a new club adventure. It’s a new brand. We’ve got this goal, we’ve got this new mindset of how we want we want to be and where we want to take the club, so it’s exciting to be part of that.
“It’s a vision and a journey that we’re on at the moment and you can feel that within the group. It’s a tight knit group and we’re all on the one path going in one direction.
Morahan is looking forward to playing in front of a vocal home crowd on Friday evening. “You know you’re going to be in for a big night. It’s going to be tough match but it’s also going to be another memorable occasion.
“So you embrace it. You enjoy every moment. That’s something that fills you with excitement.”
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