LYDIA Morgan has swapped the isolation of track and field for togetherness on the rugby pitch, writes David Bettley.
Within 13 months of taking up rugby union, the one-time athletics champion has advanced from complete beginner to the brink of the full international scene.
The sports-science graduate has risen to Premiership standard and has been welcomed into the England Development Academy.
As a field eventer, 23-year-old Morgan was once tipped by Liverpool Harriers coach Dennis Roscoe for the world stage.
Her impressive CV included Cheshire and Northern Counties titles and records, a National Championship runners-up spot, third place in the English Schools Championship and Mason Trophy Inter-Counties victory.
While at Liverpool John Moores University, the ex-Brookvale Comprehensive pupil and Widnes Sixth Form College A-level student came fourth in the hammer at the BUSAs (British Universities Championships) - with only three weeks of training behind her.
She has also competed in shot and discus.
But Morgan from Murdishaw, Runcorn, quit athletics after feeling isolated, frustrated and suffering from burnout.
She had a complete three-year break from competitive sport.
And it wasn't until she was studying to become a personal trainer that new opportunities began to open up.
Her return to the sporting arena, in November last year, stemmed from an introduction to lecturer and English Institute of Sport's Phil Mansfield, a personal trainer with the England women's rugby team.
He spotted Morgan's natural athleticism and power and suggested she tackled the 15-a-side code.
Her initial reaction was to laugh and say 'No way, are you joking? I haven't trained for years.'
But after a few weeks, Morgan was persuaded to give it a try and it has proved an inspired move.
'It can be a pretty lonely sport doing athletics. I was totally demotivated,' she explained.
'But in rugby, if you lose you all go through the loss together and if you win, great, you can share that with everyone. It is absolutely fantastic.'
Morgan admits to having been apprehensive because of preconceived ideas about the sport, which she has since found to be have been completely false.
Her transition into the game was remarkably swift but didn't go entirely without a hitch.
On what was meant to be her first training session at Waterloo RUFC in Crosby, she spent two hours trying to find the club and turned up just as the session had ended!
Thankfully, she returned the following week and soon fell in love with the game.
Thrown straight in at the deep end in Waterloo's next game, she crowned her debut with three tries.
Morgan quickly established herself as a regular at outside centre with the number-13 shirt proving far from unlucky.
She became one of the top try scorers as the Merseysiders went from strength to strength.
They won a treble of honours winning the League, National League and National Shield and with it came promotion with Morgan gaining pre-selection for the North West.
She was the region's only nomination for the Personal Development Academy and was awarded a place in Super 4 which sees 80 players competing for places in England's 44-strong squad.
Playing at blindside flanker - a position of which she had no knowledge or experience - Morgan clearly impressed England women's team head coach Geoff Richards and his assistant Graham Smith.
After only two Super-4 games as a number six, Morgan was drafted into the England Development Academy for training and matches against the full England team.
She was invited to an elite training centre, where she has been working closely with England deputy Smith, also the national team's forwards coach.
Morgan recently switched clubs from Waterloo to Premiership One outfit Lichfield after rejecting approaches from other leading outfits.
In the New Year, she will be making her debut in the top-flight.
She has also been promised appearances for England's second string and will continue her learning curve in yet another new position - as a tight-head prop forward.
Rachel Hoult, a former colleague at Waterloo, said: 'When Lydia announced that she was leaving for Premiership One's Lichfield, while we were obviously disappointed to lose such a dominant, physical player, we do hope she succeeds with her rugby goals.'
* Lydia Morgan would be grateful for any sponsorship.
Any individuals or companies who might be able to help can contact her on 01928 822734 or 07950599643 or, alternatively, Christine Thomas on 07821323295.