Bruiser Allen making his mark in more ways than one
YOU would not want to be on a crowded railway station platform if Morgan Allen were rushing to catch a train.
For anyone in the way of the 6ft, 17st 4lb product of Pontypool RFC tends to end up in a horizontal position uttering expletives that usually involve some kind of reference to a steamroller.
The son of former Wales forward Andy Allen, the 23-year-old started a game for the first time this season last weekend and made his usual forceful impact, repeatedly denting the Edinburgh defence and sapping the strength of would-be tacklers with his immense power.
Yet rewind a few years and Allen junior didn't believe he would make it as a professional player.
He hadn't featured in any academy set-up and his home region the Dragons hadn't opted to pursue him. He played part-time for Pontypool on Saturdays and worked in a shop during the week. Pro rugby didn't look on his agenda.
"It's something I never thought I'd be doing," he said at the Ospreys' training base in Llandarcy this week.
"I was never in an academy set-up or anything like that.
"I played a bit of age-group rugby and some semi-professional stuff with Pontypool, but I thought that was it.
"I was in uni, then working full-time in a rugby shop in Cwmbran. I didn't think there'd be anything more in rugby for me.
"But I've come down here and I'm really enjoying it.
"That's why I'm just happy to make the side at the moment. It's a great opportunity to be playing professional rugby. Every game is a bonus."
The Newport-born youngster is a contemporary of Toby Faletau, with the now celebrated Wales and Lions back rower first making his mark at Cross Keys while Morgan cut his teeth at Pontypool Park.
Faletau has since sped ahead, attracting plaudits throughout the game and impressing at a World Cup with Wales and for the Lions in Australia earlier this summer.
Injuries haven't helped Allen, but it isn't beyond the realms of possibility that he could eventually make it into a national squad himself. For the time being, though, he is happy to applaud Faletau's progress.
"There's not much more you can say about him, given what he's achieved at such a young age," said Allen.
"He was awesome for the Lions in the summer and he's the same in every game.
"I'm the same age-group as Toby. I was at Pontypool when he was with Cross Keys. We had a couple of games together for the Dragons Under-20s and Wales at that level as well, at the World Cup in Argentina and in the Six Nations."
Asked about the possibility of him making it onto the Test stage himself, he wheeled out the stock answer: "I'm not looking that far ahead. I'm just trying to establish myself here with the region. Whatever else comes along is a bonus."
That said, anyone who carries the ball almost 100 times in seven starts, as Allen did for the Ospreys last term, must have something going for him.
He didn't shirk anything in defence last Saturday against Edinburgh, either, repeatedly using his fridge-like frame to stop Scottish attackers dead in their tracks.
Wales's decision to overlook him in the summer was odd, particularly given their stretched resources at the time, but they did take Dan Baker and he was one of the few successes on a tour that ended with a humiliating defeat by Japan.
Certainly, Allen hasn't spent every night since crying into his pillow.
"I was a bit disappointed, but I did miss a large chunk of the second half of the season with injuries, so it's not something I'm going to dwell on. It's just one of those things," he said.
His father follows his career keenly. "He popped down for the Edinburgh game last weekend — he comes to watch whenever he can. It's tough with work and stuff," added Allen.
"He never had the opportunity to play professional rugby himself. I'm sure he would have relished it as much as I relish it.
"Now he likes watching, telling me what to do and pointing out where I'm going wrong," laughed Allen.
Increasingly, you'd imagine Allen senior's criticisms were becoming fewer and fewer.