The Courier-Mail

RAY OF HOPE Cowboys to tough it out in title bid

- CHRIS GARRY

PAUL Green understand­s why a Michael Morgan-less Cowboys team would be written off for the premiershi­p, but he is backing utility Ray Thompson’s toughness to get them to the promised land.

As The Courier-Mail reported this week, Morgan is set to miss a month after his ankle was crunched in a tackle against the Warriors.

Green confirmed yesterday that Morgan suffered a high ankle sprain or syndesmosi­s injury. But the club was still unsure when the Origin star would return.

Morgan and prop James Tamou, who suffered a neck injury, will definitely miss the last two regular season games, but Tamou will likely return for the finals series.

Morgan’s best hope appears a semi or preliminar­y final if the Cowboys make it that far.

Green said Morgan’s ankle was the same one that required surgery this year.

“That complicate­s things further, too,” he said. “This one doesn’t require surgery but they (high ankle sprains) can take quite a while (to heal).

“We are not sure how long it will take.”

Asked if Morgan would return this season, Green responded “I hope so”.

Peter Sterling and Gorden Tallis are among those who say the Cowboys can not win the premiershi­p without Morgan. “He’s a terrific player and I see why they would say that. I don’t agree with it,” Green said.

Tamou needs more scans but has been cleared of further damage to his neck, which was first injured last year and eventually required bone to be shaved from his spine.

He now needs rest to regain movement through his shoulders and back.

“How long that will take? We don’t really know because it is a nerve problem, but there’s no further damage,” Green said. “He’s a lot better this year than he was last year.”

Green has opted to replace Morgan with Thompson and Tamou with Ben Hannant as Scott Bolton comes off the bench and Gavin Cooper returns to the team to play Melbourne on Saturday.

“He’s a tough competitor, Ray. Against Newcastle, he hadn’t played for a few weeks and played 80 minutes at hooker,” Green said.

“Defensivel­y he’s a better option there for us.”

Thompson’s new halves partner Johnathan Thurston said Lachlan Coote would now play a larger role in attack.

“It gives Cootey a bit more freedom. He gets to roam ... and Cootey enjoys that role.”

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