Gloucester Rugby: Ross Moriarty benefiting from learning from the best
FAMILY values have helped ease Ross Moriarty's back-row transition – and now he is ready to hone his blindside flanker skills.
The Gloucester Academy back-rower is all set for his England Under-20s debut in tonight's Six Nations opener against Scotland in Plymouth (kick-off 5.45pm).
The 18-year-old swapped full-back for the back-row a year ago after a growth spurt – and one telling tackle in action for Hartpury College.
With a dual-code international loose-forward and defence coach as a dad, Moriarty Junior admits back-row was probably always in his genes.
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But he conceded that growing up his Gloucester defence expert father Paul always coached him as a flanker – whatever his shirt number.
Preparing for tonight's Six Nations clash at Plymouth Albion's Brickfields Stadium, Moriarty said: "I think my dad has always coached me as a back-row player – just playing out of position.
"It makes sense in one way, and in another it was probably easier for him to pass on his specific knowledge there.
"Somehow I've just gravitated towards the back-row really.
"Being a loose-forward is definitely the best position for me, I can get involved with a bit of everything – the tight work and then link with the backs too.
"I feel as though I'm picking it up naturally as I move along, luckily for me it's come together quite quickly."
Moriarty has relished his first taste of first-team action at Gloucester this term, under new boss Nigel Davies.
And now he is hoping to take advantage of that with his England age group and capitalise on the specialist coaching at his disposal.
He said: "There are good chances to speak to coaches by themselves here, so you can do a lot of individual work, and that's a great way to help your development.
"It's not too long that I've been playing in the back-row, so I watch a lot of video clips of senior international players, watch what they do and see what I can learn from them.
"I'm quite happy playing six at the moment, the teams I'm playing for are happy with that too, so that's fine.
"I played pretty much everywhere in the backs up until I was 16, or 17.
"Then I switched to the back-row when I was in the second team, and I've just kicked on from there.
"I just enjoy doing a lot more, I'm involved a lot more, I got a bit bigger and more physical and so it's suited me.
"I'm very pleased with my progress, and to have five first-team games at 18, that's great.
"I would not have expected that a year ago.
"So I've just got to keep working hard and keep on improving.
"I've spoken a lot with our Academy manager Andrew Stanley about what he wants from me in the future.
"And that depends on what happens in the next couple of months.
"Hopefully all of that will go well, and I'll get a bit more chance in the first team."
ENGLAND UNDER-20S: A Watson (London Irish), J Arnott (Exeter), H Sloan (Harlequins), S Hill (Exeter), B Howard (Worcester), H Slade (Exeter), A Day (Northampton), L Cowan-Dickie (Exeter), M Crumpton (Saracens), K Sinckler (Harlequins), E Stooke (Gloucester), D Barrow (Leeds), R Moriarty (Gloucester), J Conlon (Exeter), J Clifford (capt, Harlequins). Replacements: D Herriott (Northampton), D Hobbs-Awoyemi (Northampton), S Wilson (Newcastle), T Jubb (Saracens), G Jones (Wasps), N Fowles (Sale), W Hooley (Northampton), M Jennings (Sale).