Mal defies stats to pick utility Morgan
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.’’