THERE WILL be jubilations and sadness at Glasgow as centre Graeme Morrison is to celebrate a decade at Glasgow Warriors having penned a new two-year-deal with the club, but fellow centre, Max Evans has decided to leave at the end of the season, with Castres his likely destination. Morrison, the Scotland international first signed for the Warriors from Glasgow Hawks in 2003, and the final year of his new deal will see the 28-year-old become the first player in Glasgow’s professional history to reach such a milestone.
On the first eight years of his career, Morrison said: “It seems like only yesterday that I was getting my first game for Glasgow because it’s all gone very quickly. “But I suppose that’s the life of a rugby player – time flies when you’re enjoying yourself. I believe in this team. We have a good young squad that are growing up together and I have a feeling that if the core of this squad can stay together and improve, we can do something special.”
Warriors head coach, Sean Lineen, praised Morrison’s dedication to the club saying: “It’s fantastic news. Loyalty is pretty hard to come by these days in professional rugby so it’s great to have someone the quality of Graeme committing to another two years.”
The man they call “G-Dog”, currently out with a knee injury, holds the Warriors’ all-time appearance record having racked up 144 games and is set to stretch his lead when he returns. He has started 101 of the 113 Magners League matches he has played in, scoring 20 tries in all competitions.
Of Morrison’s development as a player and overall contribution to the Warriors, Lineen continued: “I’ve watched him grow year on year both in stature and the way he plays the game. He brings a lot to the club off the field as well. He’s a real trustworthy guy and someone that everyone else looks up to. He gives 100% on the field every time.”
Morrison has seen innumerable changes in the Glasgow set-up over the past eight years, both on and off the field, but with a state-of-the-art training base at Scotstoun Sports Campus and a home established at Firhill Stadium, the future looks bright. “You’ve seen over the past couple of seasons that we can post good results and we can beat the best teams in Europe,” Morrison continued. “We are developing into a really good side. We competed last year, we got into the top four and finished the league in third, and I don’t see any reason why we can’t replicate that over the next two years.”
Lineen also revealed today the importance of Morrison in developing the young talent progressing through the Glasgow ranks. “He obviously loves it here,” Lineen continued. “It’s a good culture and he’s important to that. There are a lot of youngsters that we’ll be bringing through in the next year or so, certainly in the backs, and Graeme will play an important role in developing them at the same time as his own game.”
Relishing such responsibility, Morrison added: “Glasgow Warriors has given me a lot. The last eight years of my life have been great and that is down to the people here in Glasgow and the club I’ve been playing for. I see myself now as an established player in the side and someone with a bit of experience. There are a lot of young guys coming through and hopefully I can use my skills out on the training pitch with them and help to carry that on.”
The 6ft 2in, 16st 7lb powerhouse also harbours international aspirations ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand having missed out on the last tournament in France. He continued: “I was in the last World Cup training squad but unfortunately I was one of eight guys to get cut at the final hurdle and that really hurt. Since then, one of my main ambitions is to be involved in a World Cup, and this is the World Cup for me. I think playing in Scotland with the guys we’ve got here will give me a good chance of doing that (playing in a World Cup).”
Lineen agreed stating that Morrison could be central to Scotland’s World Cup selection: “I know he’s important to Andy Robinson’s thoughts with the World Cup coming. Graeme’s going to play an important role with Scotland, so to have a key man like that staying in Scotland is crucial. But first and foresmost his love is with Glasgow and you see the sense of satisfaction he gets when we win games.”
Meanwhile, Glasgow Warriors also announce today that Morrison’s centre partner, Max Evans, will leave the club at the end of the season. Evans has made 60 appearances for the Warriors since joining the club, also from Glasgow Hawks, in 2007. His line-breaking abilities have seen him score ten tries on his own whilst setting up countless others.
On Evans’ departure, Lineen said: “Max has been another outstanding discovery for Glasgow and it is unfortunate that he is moving on at the end of the season. In saying that, Max has been a great servant to Glasgow and I wish him well for the future.”
Glasgow chief executive, Kenny Baillie, added: “Today’s announcement that Graeme Morrison has re-signed for another two years demonstrates our ability to retain crucial members of the Scotland national team. “It’s tremendous that Graeme sees his future in Scotland, with Glasgow, and he will be central to our ongoing development of some very talented young players. I also thank Max for his contribution to the Warriors and wish him the very best of luck for the future.”