South African centre Pieter Morton has swapped Saracens for Harlequins in Abu Dhabi, claiming Quins are “hungrier” for success than their rivals next season.
The 23-year-old was a big part of a Sarries team that beat Doha to win the West Asia Cup last season.
Switching sides in the capital is nothing new. Sarries’ West Asia Cup-winning head coach Ali Thompson played six seasons for Quins before moving across the city in 2013, while Clendon Pene, who enjoyed two stints at Quins, also played one season for Sarries. Yet Morton’s move still comes as a shock.
He caused a stir on social media on Thursday when he posted a picture on his Facebook and Instagram accounts, with the caption ‘The wolf on top of the hill isn’t as hungry as the wolf climbing the hill’.
Morton told Sport360: “Lots of people have asked me why I’ve left when Sarries won the West Asia Cup. I know Quins will be exceptional next season. They won the Premiership and the Dubai Sevens last season and will be stronger.
“It was a bitter pill to swallow to see their neighbours winning the West Asia Cup but it has made them hungrier and determined to win everything on offer this season. I think they’re hungrier than Sarries.”
The former Pumas and Blue Bulls protégé, who was the club’s joint top tryscorer alongside captain Jaen Botes with seven tries, believes the move is best for his career.
“Quins have a more professional set-up, they’re more advanced, have better facilities and I want to be at a place that suits my style. At the end of the day I must think about myself,” he said.
Morton says he will cherish the experience of his one and only season in the red and black shirt.
“I have fond memories of Sarries. The West Asia Cup triumph is something I will always remember. I have to say thanks to the likes of (team manager) Jacques Barnard, (former head coach) Ali Thompson and (former president) Dave Jackson. I won’t forget them and I will keep the club in my heart.”
Despite his move, Morton isn’t expected to be available to play for Quins until the Dubai Sevens. He is recovering from a knee injury sustained during the 26-20 West Asia Cup win against Doha.
Sarries’ chairman Jay Danielson admitted he was perplexed at Morton’s decision to leave Al Ghazal, particularly after the season they had, but he wished him well.
“We’re obviously disappointed as we don’t like to see any of our players leave, but if they feel they have better opportunities elsewhere then good luck to them. Players come and go and we wish Pieter all the best.”
Another player who is also leaving Sarries is multi-talented back Dougie Steele. The 25-year-old, who played scrum-half, fly-half and full-back last season, has returned home to Scotland, signing a contract with former club Ayr.
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