Tau­malolo and Bolton back Ori­gin star to lead Cow­boys into the fu­ture Morgo has team re­spect

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

MORGO’S the man.

Cow­boys main­stays Ja­son Tau­malolo and Scott Bolton have backed Michael Mor­gan to be the club’s next full- time cap­tain when Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott re­tire.

Mor­gan will as­sume the role for the first time against Pen­rith tonight af­ter in­terim skip­per Gavin Cooper limped off with a calf in­jury in last week’s loss to Mel­bourne. PAR­RA­MATTA’S chances of a NRL top- four fin­ish have suf­fered a major set­back af­ter a con­tro­ver­sial 29- 10 de­feat to an im­prov­ing New­cas­tle at ANZ Sta­dium.

The Knights were hold­ing on to an eight- point lead last night when Ken Sio passed off the ground and, one minute later, Brock Lamb crashed over to seal a third- straight win.

“The ball never touched the ground,” the ref­eree told Eels five- eighth Corey Nor­man.

Sio com­pleted his brace with an ac­ro­batic try in the 67th minute be­fore Brock Lamb capped off an out­stand­ing dis­play with a field goal to snap the Eels’ six- game win­ning streak.

Lamb’s one- pointer also mo­men­tar­ily lifted the Knights off the bot­tom of the lad­der for the first time since April, tak­ing them past the Wests Tigers on points dif­fer­en­tial.

It was the Knights’ big­gest win since a 30- 2 vic­tory over Gold Coast in mid- 2015, and their first road win since later that same year.

Lamb fin­ished the night with a try, four tackle breaks, two line breaks and two try as­sists, while full­back Dane Ga­gai car­ried the ball for a game- high 207m to go with two try as­sists.

Eels coach Brad Arthur said his team had more prob­lems than the bad Sio call, sug­gest­ing his team were com­pla­cent.

“Maybe we thought we could come here and get a soft win,” Arthur said.

He may only have the job for a cou­ple of weeks, but it is a strong in­di­ca­tion the Queens­land Ori­gin star is be­ing groomed as the next Cow­boys leader.

Tau­malolo signed an un­prece­dented 10- year deal with North Queens­land ear­lier this year, and looks to be Mor­gan’s only ri­val for the job.

But he in­sisted Mor­gan has the at­tributes and re­spect from his team­mates to take the man­tle.

“I’ll bide my time a bit. With Morgo step­ping into the reins he’s def­i­nitely a leader and I see him as a long- term cap­tain,” Tau­malolo said.

“I def­i­nitely see him as the long term cap­tain post JT and Matt Scott and he’s def­i­nitely got the at­tributes of a leader.

“He knows when it’s time to have fun with the boys, but also switch on when he needs to. That’s just Morgo, he’s real laid- back off the field but on it he’s a real leader.

“He used to be quiet at the start but he’s def­i­nitely found a voice. He voices his opin­ions which ev­ery­one re­spects and has the author­ity about him like JT and Matt Scott does.

“He def­i­nitely gets the re­spect he de­serves from all the boys.”

Prop Bolton cap­tained the team against Can­berra ear­lier this year when Mor­gan was on Ori­gin duty, but agreed Mor­gan is the lead­ing can­di­date.

“With the team here at the mo­ment, I think he is the longterm cap­tain,” Bolton said.

“He’s a lo­cal kid and the way he’s de­vel­oped this year with Johnno ( Thurston) miss­ing for a large chunk of the year has been great for us.

“With Morgo and Cootey ( Lach­lan Coote), ( Jake) Granville, Jase ( Tau­malolo) and my­self, we can re­ally share that lead­er­ship role.”

Tau­malolo agreed it’s up to the ex­pe­ri­enced core left to step up with so many ex­pe­ri­enced stars side­lined for tonight’s cru­cial clash against the eighth- placed Pan­thers.

Pen­rith would leapfrog North Queens­land with a win, and the Cow­boys could drop as low as eighth on the lad­der.

“Now we’ve lost a fair bit of ex­pe­ri­ence in the team it’s time for some­one to step up, not just as play­ers but as lead­ers in their own way,” Tau­malolo said.

Cow­boys cen­tre Justin O’Neill said Mor­gan had shown with the ex­tra play­mak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity he’d taken on this year he was up to the task.

“He’s re­ally been steer­ing the boys around since Johnno’s been out. He’s re­ally stepped up and taken own­er­ship of the role so he de­serves it.”

NO WAY: Bris­bane Bron­cos en­forcer Josh McGuire is wrapped up by the Cronulla Sharks de­fence at Sun­corp Sta­dium last night.

Cow­boys star Michael Mor­gan.

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