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Cliff Morgan

One tour, 4 Tests, 1955

One tour, 4 Tests, 1955

If Tony O'Reilly was the star soloist of the 1955 Lions, Cliff Morgan was the genius who called the tune to which almost all opponents were made to dance. Christened 'Morgan the Magnificent' by the South African newspapers, the little Welshman earned a reputation as the finest stand-off the country had seen through his exploits as the fulcrum of one of the greatest of all Lions backlines.

Jolting acceleration and a searing outside break were the Cardiff stand-off's hallmarks, as well as an ability to arch his body away from the hands trying to claw him to earth. In the first Test - still a contender for the greatest international ever played - it was that combination of gifts that brought the Lions level moments after injury to Reg Higgins reduced them to 14 men.

Morgan broke from a scrum taken against the head and arced past the despairing dive of South African back-row great 'Basie' van Wyk before scorching over for the try. With captain Robin Thompson injured ahead of the third Test, it was Morgan the Lions turned to for inspiration with the series poised at 1-1.

And inspiration was what he provided, rousing the side with a stirring dressing room address and then showing yet another facet of his control by working the touchlines relentlessly with his boot to set up a 9-6 victory that meant the series could not be lost.

As well as their on-field general, Morgan was also the squad's choirmaster and his full value to the team was measured in the acres of newsprint devoted to the condition of his injured ankle ahead of the fourth Test. No Cliff, no victory, was the clear message, but even though he played through the pain, the Lions could not prevent South Africa squaring the series. Morgan's reputation was already assured, however; even his rare modesty could not diminish his even rarer talent.

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