Morris gets back on track

RUGBY LEAGUE

Brett Morris barely gave a second thought to his spectacular slide into the Old Trafford advertising hoardings during Australia's World Cup final rout of New Zealand.

A plane skidding off a New York tarmac barely 24 hours before you're supposed to head home from a whirlwind honeymoon for preseason training?

That's an altogether different matter.

"There was a plane that slid off the runway the day before we were supposed to leave," Morris told the Mercury at yesterday's Charity Shield launch in Wollongong.

"We thought we were going to get stuck there but we got out just in time to make it back for training."

After a week in the pre-season furnace after time spent in an ice-capped Big Apple, you would forgive the Dragons winger for wanting to bask in a little more off-season glow.

The 27-year-old won a World Cup with the Kangaroos before he rushed home to wed long-time partner Kate Milliken before the end of 2013.

It put an exclamation on what he described as a "very long year" in St George Illawarra, NSW and Australian colours.

Yet don't expect Morris to be shying away from the chance to feature in the made-for-speed Auckland Nines next month, barely a month after the Dragons' World Cup players returned to the paddock.

"I've been waiting for one of these things my whole career," he joked.

"The less people on the field for us small guys, the better.

"I'd love the opportunity to play in it but we'll just have to see how the body is going and there's no rush to get back."

Absent for a couple of months, Morris noticed a difference thanks to St George Illawarra's biggest roster overhaul in years.

"With all the new faces it feels like a new club and a lot of the older guys have moved on," he said.

"It's a great opportunity for a lot of the young guys now to step up and be leaders of this club.

"Guys like Mitch Rein and Jack de Belin, they've been in the system for quite a while now and it's a great opportunity for them to step up."

The Dragons yesterday officially unveiled WIN Stadium as the venue for the Charity Shield clash against the Rabbitohs on February 22.

US rapper Eminem was booked for ANZ Stadium on the same night, which forced organisers to search for an alternate venue.

"We wouldd certainly like to see the house full sign up," club chief operating officer Michael McDonald said.

"We've got great support in the Illawarra community and we're very confident we'll have strong support not only for this event, but all events we have here."

The match is expected to kick-off at twilight to avoid a clash with the World Club Challenge between English club Wigan and the Sydney Roosters later that night.

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