Back to the future for centred Morgo
THE last time Michael Morgan was chosen at centre he was wearing the maroon of Mackay Cutters, not preparing for an Origin decider with Queensland. It’s why he is bracing for NSW to target his untried left edge partnership with Cameron Munster in Wednesday’s Origin decider as he prepares to play centre for the first time in his first grade career. Morgan lost to Munster in the battle to replace the injured Johnathan Thurston at five- eighth, with Maroons coach Kevin Walters of the belief the debutant will be more at ease in an all- Melbourne “spine” alongside Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith. Morgan has played seven Origins off the bench and has long been viewed as the heir apparent for a halves spot when Thurston and Cronk retire. But he insisted he wasn’t disheartened and his brief time at right centre in Origin II, where he set up Dane Gagai’s winning try, had given him confidence he can shut down Blues star Josh Dugan. “That’s definitely what I will be expecting ( to be targeted), yeah,” Morgan said. “It will be me and Munster on the left edge there, so I’m sure they’ll send a bit of traffic our way and try and get some points there. “I’m not disappointed at all, obviously I prefer the halves but I’m just happy to be part of the team. “It ( Origin II) gave me some confidence although I’ll be on the other side of the field this time. “All through my twenties, I played all my footy on the left side of the field. It’s only when I came into first grade where JT plays left that I went to the right.
“I like it because I carry the ball with my left hand, so I’ll be able to use a right fend if I need to.”
Morgan said he and Cowboys teammate Gavin Cooper would work overtime with Munster to make sure they’re on the same page defensively.
“Defensively, a lot of the time you’re one- on- one with the opposition and Josh Dugan is obviously a very strong runner of the ball,” Morgan said.
“It will be a challenge and it’ll be making sure I’m talking and working with the guys around me.
“I’ve defended a lot with Gav Cooper so we’ll work with Munster and try and help him fit into the way we like to defend as much we can.”
Morgan’s presence on the field from the opening whistle will give the Maroons another ball- playing option and he has been in superb form for the Cowboys since Thurston was ruled out for the season.
“It’s an easier ( for Munster to eighth),” he said.
“From a team point of view, that’s what the decision came down to and I understand that completely. It’ll help him a lot to do a role he’s used to doing at Melbourne Storm with the guys he does it with.” transition play five