Ma­roons vet­er­ans thank team player

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - JON TUXWORTH jonathon. tuxworth@ news. com. au

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.”

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