Maroons veterans thank team player
MELBOURNE marvels Billy Slater and Cameron Smith have praised Michael Morgan’s willingness to sacrifice individual goals for the Maroons jersey after the decision to play him at centre proved a masterstroke in Wednesday’s Origin deciding win.
Cowboy star Morgan continued his penchant for seizing the big moments when it counts by laying on the opening try of the game for his winger Valentine Holmes, which kick- started a near flawless first half from Queensland.
Coach Kevin Walters’ decision to play the regular five- eighth at centre for the first time in his NRL career, allowing Melbourne Storm debutant Cameron Munster to play at No. 6, was the crucial chess move which won Queensland the series.
Munster was superb and looked like he’d been playing on the biggest stage for years with Storm teammates, Smith, Slater and Cooper Cronk in the “spine”.
“Kevvie asked a few of us senior players and I told him either way you can’t make a wrong decision here,” Slater said.
“But to have Cameron coming in on his debut and being familiar in his defensive role at three in, being familiar playing with Cameron, Coops and myself, I just thought that would be the easiest way to introduce him.
“I thought Morgan probably had more pace than Cameron in the centres defensively, he was great for us and set up our first try.
“Coming off the bench in the middle ( the first two games) he was hitting guys as hard, if not harder, than some of our forwards.
“He won the game for us basically in the second game and he did it again tonight. He’s a great football player and very humble.
“A lot of players are playing out of position in this team. It’s just about being a Queenslander, getting out there and having a go.”
Although Morgan has been biding his time as a bench utility waiting for a chance in the halves, Smith said he understood it was the best call for team balance.
Munster finished with two try assists in one of the great Origin debuts and his running game menaced the Blues.
“He was fantastic. He was around the ball, was strong all night and they found it hard to contain him,” Smith said.
“I knew he had that in him, that’s why when Kev came to me and asked my thoughts on where he should play, I said ‘ give him the number six and tell him to do what he does every week for the Storm’.
“If he continues those types of performances he’ll keep that jersey for a long time. A long time.”
Slater is yet to decide whether he will play on next year, but hopes to make a definitive call within weeks.
Storm teammate Cooper Cronk could also call it quits after announcing he will move to Sydney next year for personal reasons.
“I’m not too sure ( what I’m doing),” Slater said. “The decision will come in due course.”