Mor­gan asked to take on un­fa­mil­iar role in re­vamped Maroons out­fit New cen­tre of at­ten­tion

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - TRAVIS MEYN

MAROONS “Mr Fixit” Michael Mor­gan says he is com­fort­able with cap­tain Cameron Smith’s public push for Cameron Mun­ster to be in­stalled as Queens­land five- eighth.

Coach Kevin Wal­ters will to­day con­firm Mun­ster as Johnathan Thurston’s re­place­ment in the No. 6 jer­sey for Wed­nes­day’s State of Ori­gin de­cider at Sun­corp Sta­dium.

Wal­ters named a 17- man squad in al­pha­bet­i­cal or­der on Mon­day, giv­ing him­self the op­por­tu­nity to con­sult se­nior Maroons play­ers be­fore fi­nal­is­ing his team.

While Thurston in­di­cated to Wal­ters that Mor­gan should re­place him, Smith pub­licly backed Storm team­mate Mun­ster to make his Ori­gin de­but in the play­mak­ing hot- seat.

Hav­ing served a se­v­engame Ori­gin ap­pren­tice­ship from the bench, Mor­gan was pre­pared to step into Thurston’s void, but Mun­ster’s club com­bi­na­tions with Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Smith saw him earn the nod.

Mor­gan said he had no is­sues with Smith pub­licly push­ing for Mun­ster.

“I can un­der­stand why,” he said. “He plays with him ev­ery week and that would be the four of them play­ing to­gether.

“They have played a lot of footy to­gether, a lot more than what I have played with the Mel­bourne boys.

“I just love be­ing here and part of the group. It doesn’t bother me too much where I play.

“Com­ing off the bench I’ve been go­ing into the mid­dle a lot which isn’t the eas­i­est place to play. It’s some­thing I en­joy do­ing be­cause I’m do­ing it in this side.”

Mor­gan, 25, will make his first start­ing Ori­gin ap­pear­ance at left cen­tre, a po­si­tion he has never started a match in be­fore dur­ing his pro­fes­sional ca­reer.

He has been in a pur­ple patch of form for the Cow­boys over the past month in the ab­sence of Thurston and Wal­ters be­lieves he can trans­fer that into a start at cen­tre.

After a slow start to the year, Mor­gan turned his season around while in Kan­ga­roos camp for the An­zac Test fol­low­ing some advice from Maroons half­back Cooper Cronk.

Cronk said he urged Mor­gan to take con­trol at the Cow­boys and backed him to per­form as a makeshift cen­tre.

“Morgs is quite a re­served, shy and hum­ble kid from Queens­land,” Cronk said.

“For him to step up and be the half­back, you need to be dom­i­nant.

“You need to have a per­son­al­ity that’s a bit out­ward.

“I ba­si­cally said, ‘ you’re one of the best 17 play­ers in this coun­try. When you go back ( to the Cow­boys), ask for the re­spon­si­bil­ity and do that’.

“He is a guy that has a big body and is quite phys­i­cal for some­one that plays in the halves. He can han­dle him­self.

“The kid can play. He can play un­der pres­sure. His per­son­al­ity suits it. He’s got good com­po­sure. There is no doubt what­ever jer­sey he wears, I have faith in him.”

Mor­gan will have his first train­ing ses­sion in the cen­tres at Sanc­tu­ary Cove on the Gold Coast to­day.

ROAD BACK: North Queens­land prop Matt Scott has pro­gressed to light run­ning in his re­cov­ery from a season- end­ing ACL in­jury. Pic­ture: EVAN MOR­GAN

Maroons star Michael Mor­gan.

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