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