Mal de­fies stats to pick util­ity Mor­gan

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - PAUL MALONE

MAL Meninga has taken a leap of faith – chal­lenged by Ori­gin sta­tis­tics – with his bold se­lec­tion of Michael Mor­gan ahead of Daly Cherry- Evans or a fourth in­ter­change for­ward.

Meninga said Mor­gan had been se­lected for his ca­pac­ity to cover out­side back and No. 6 po­si­tions in the event of in­juries in Ori­gin III.

Queens­land se­lec­tors also liked his di­rect method of ball- run­ning over Cherry- Evans’s less struc­tured con­tri­bu­tions in at­tack.

But Fox Sports Stats re­veal the Cowboys util­ity has run with the ball only three times in 45 min­utes, mak­ing no tackle busts, over his two Ori­gin games.

It negates the the­ory that Mor­gan’s NRL line- break­ing abil­ity can quickly trans­late to him be­com­ing an Ori­gin game- buster.

Mor­gan played 24 min­utes in Game Two and touched the ball twice.

Ad­mit­tedly, he played at a stage of the match in which NSW gained re­peat sets.

Mor­gan, hav­ing been deemed by se­lec­tors to be a prom­i­nent player in Queens­land’s fu­ture, is the sort of fig­ure the Ma­roons must get games into as part of their suc­ces­sion plan­ning.

The time is com­ing when Johnathan Thurston and oth­ers in the six- strong 30- some­thing con­tin­gent in the Queens­land side move on or are moved on by se­lec­tors.

“We hadn’t re­ally got a cover for the out­side backs ( if Mor­gan was not se­lected,’’ Meninga said.

“We can play Mor­gan at full­back and bring Greg ( Inglis) into the out­side backs. It was the tip­ping point.’’

Meninga said crit­i­cism of Queens­land’s pack in the Game Two loss to NSW over­looked one is­sue im­pact­ing on next Wed­nes­day’s se­ries de­cider at Sun­corp Sta­dium.

“I thought we were dom­i­nant in the first game also,’’ he said.

“I’m con­fi­dent in the team and it is a de­cider. I don’t think I need to mo­ti­vate the play­ers.’’

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