Ross Moriarty says early Gloucester release for Wales summer tour a 'win-win'

By Ceri Coleman-PhillipsBBC Sport Wales
Ross Moriarty
Ross Moriarty had been contracted to Gloucester until the end of June

Ross Moriarty says he is "fortunate" Gloucester allowed him to tour with Wales this summer, despite one game falling outside of World Rugby's official international window.

The English Premiership club released the Dragons-bound back-row early from his contract, allowing him to travel to the USA and Argentina next month.

Wales' Test with South Africa on 2 June is outside World Rugby's Test dates.

"It wasn't really in doubt" said 24-year-old Moriarty.

"But it's unfortunate for the others."

Moriarty was cleared to play for Wales alongside George North, who is joining Ospreys from Northampton for the 2018-19 campaign.

But fellow England-based players Luke Charteris, Tomas Francis and Josh Adams were withdrawn from the trip after being named in Warren Gatland's initial squad.

"It's disappointing for them. I'm in a fortunate position where I'm coming back to play [for Dragons], and I'm grateful for that," said Moriarty.

"Gloucester were quite happy for me to get released early. It's a win-win both ways."

Ross Moriarty in Wales colours
Ross Moriarty says he is 'not too fussed' whether he plays at six or eight

The Welsh Rugby Union has an agreement with Wales' four regions to ensure their players are available to the national team.

Clubs based outside Wales are under no obligation to release players for games that fall outside World Rugby dates.

Competition for jersey

Moriarty had played for Gloucester since he was 18 and made 83 appearances for the Cherry and Whites. He represented England at under-18 and 20 levels, but opted for Wales at senior level where he has won 20 caps.

He is hoping to add to those when Wales play South Africa in Washington ahead of two Tests against Argentina.

"I'm really looking forward to playing summer rugby if I get picked. It's nice to be involved in training with Wales again," he said.

Moriarty joked that the Wales players had been running around in bin bags in training this week in an attempt to acclimatise to the heat expected in Washington and Argentina, but he said he is not too worried.

"We trained in 50 degrees when we were in Qatar, which was probably the worst experience of my life. I don't think any heat, unless it's 50 degrees, is going to shock me after that," he added.

Wales' back-row strength in depth has grown over the last year. Injuries to usual starters Sam Warburton and Taulupe Faletau have given the likes of Josh Navidi, Ellis Jenkins and James Davies a taste for the jersey.

Moriarty said: "It's obviously grown a lot from last season. Before that you had the four main back-rowers who never really changed, but now there seems to be a lot more competition.

"It's good for everyone in training, everyone wants to play better and become better players - so it's not a bad thing."

Ross Moriarty with Wales team mates
Ross Moriarty (right) has been involved in the Wales set-up since the 2015 World Cup

Respect for Jackman

Moriarty has signed a two-year deal with Dragons and said the region's run of poor results "didn't bother" him at all. Dragons finished second-bottom in Pro14 Conference B.

"I'm not signing for the season just gone, I'm looking forward to the season coming up," Moriarty said, adding that next season was going to be different with so many new players coming in and others leaving.

He credited head coach Bernard Jackman for giving 21 young players their Pro14 debuts, which Moriarty said puts them in good stead should they be called upon next year.

"I'm really looking forward to working with Bernard. He's a really good bloke and he's definitely the sort of person I want to play alongside," Moriarty said.

"If you connect on a personal level with a coach, that's definitely going to make you a better player."

Moriarty added Dragons were "always going to be an underdog team", but said they want to play "exciting rugby" and get "people on seats" at Rodney Parade.

"No one has really given them a chance. The results weren't there last season, but he [Jackman] has given players an opportunity they may not have had at higher performing clubs," he said.

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