Morgan's praise as sevens stars earn contracts
SEVENS stars Andy Bulumakau and Drew Cheshire have the raw materials to progress right through the Gloucester ranks, believes impressed Olly Morgan.
The speedy duo have capitalised on extended Cherry and Whites auditions in sevens action to sign senior academy contracts at the Kingsholm club.
Short-format coach Morgan has backed Fijian flier Bulumakau and Luctonians product Cheshire to flourish in the years to come at Gloucester.
Powerful 21-year-old Bulumakau has spent the last two years at Forest of Dean club Drybrook, while completing his studies at Hartpury College.
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National League Two South club Stourbridge had been keen to recruit the quick-thinking three-quarter.
But now Gloucester have drawn him into their academy and are intent on channelling his raw flair and physicality.
Free-scoring Luctonians wing Cheshire is still a student at Cardiff University, but he has trained with Gloucester during pre-season.
And just like Bulumakau, he has exploited the JP Morgan Premiership and World Club Sevens competitions to secure a full-time future with the Cherry and Whites.
Experienced Kingsholm full-back Morgan tipped both men to progress steadily through Gloucester's ranks, to full first-team honours – once they round out their raw edges.
Bulumakau sustained a torn AC shoulder joint in the act of scoring a try in Gloucester's 27-17 win over Western Province on Saturday.
That score helped secure Gloucester's progress to the World Club Sevens top-tier cup competition quarter-final.
While Bulumakau could be sidelined for some time, Morgan still predicts a bright future once he finds full fitness again.
Morgan explained: "For Andy it's been a great three weeks.
"We did lose a few players to injury in the first week of the JP Morgan, with guys out in Tignes.
"And Andy and Apo made a real difference in the JP Morgan finals.
"He's young, but experienced in sevens.
"He's got great feet and he's quick, but the thing that stood out for me is that he punches above his weight in defence.
"He's not the biggest bloke but he hits hard.
"Andy showed again on Saturday what a talented player he is.
"The injury wasn't ideal, but he found out afterwards that he'd been handed a place in the academy.
"So that's great testament to his ability.
"And he's certainly taken his opportunity in the last few weeks.
"We've got to work out what position Andy will play because he can play across the whole backline.
"But he's certainly got the temperament, he's hard working.
"So there's no reason why he can't progress up the ranks.
"I'm sure he'll be just as talented in 15s as he is in sevens, given space and opportunities.
"So we'll see how it works out, but there's no better way to start than at the academy with Gloucester.
"He's got to get his shoulder right, but he's taken his first opportunity, and I'm sure he'll do the same again in future.
"There's still a lot to work on with Andy, he'll need to bulk up, but he's a hard worker and will handle that."
Backing Cheshire to follow the well-trodden academy path to Kingsholm greatness too, Morgan said potential loan spells at county clubs could prove hugely profitable.
Morgan added: "Drew is another talented player who can progress well at the club too now.
"Nigel's shown that he's someone who holds a lot of stall by the academy, and will give players opportunities to move through the system.
"Drew hasn't had as much opportunity through the sevens as Andy, but he will definitely make the most of his opportunities through the academy too.
"The loan system will give players like that chances to play regularly and improve, while at the same time benefit from close contact with their main club Gloucester.
"It's difficult because sometimes a loan is viewed as a step down, but especially for youngsters trying to make their name it shouldn't be seen that way at all nowadays.
"We've got great partners in Hartpury and Cinderford for example, and having links like that gives players opportunity to play regularly.
"So there's no reason why guys like Andy and Drew cannot make the most of any potential loans and use that to help their eventual progress hopefully into Gloucester's first team."