The Weekend Australian

Morgan concedes defeat in injury battle

- PETER BADEL TRAVIS MEYN

Morgan had been viewed as the answer to life after Thurston

Cowboys co-captain Michael Morgan has decided to retire from rugby league.

News Corp can reveal Morgan’s decorated NRL career is over with the Cowboys to formally announce his retirement in Townsville.

It is a sad ending for the 29year-old, who has conceded defeat with a chronic shoulder injury that has prompted the

Cowboys to have him medically retired by the NRL’s salary-cap auditor.

Morgan has advised Cowboys players of his decision.

His future has been under a cloud for the past fortnight as he visited a number of doctors in a desperate bid to play on, most recently on Thursday when he consulted a shoulder specialist in Townsville.

But that meeting has convinced Morgan he can no longer push through the pain barrier in a sudden and shattering finale for one of the Cowboys’ greatest players.

Morgan was viewed as the answer to life after Johnathan Thurston when he signed a fiveyear, $5 million deal in 2017 but he is expected to receive a $2.5m payout as part of his medical retirement from the NRL.

One of rugby league’s most popular players, Morgan had an outstandin­g career, playing 168 NRL games, 12 Origin matches and 12 Tests matches for Australia since his debut in 2010.

His career highlight came in 2015, when he was the hero of the Cowboys’ maiden premiershi­p win against the Broncos, throwing the superb pass which led to Kyle Feldt’s last-minute try to send the decider into extra time.

He also produced an incredible run of form late in the 2017 season, while Thurston was sidelined, to take the Cowboys to the grand final, which they lost to Melbourne.

Morgan has sought multiple opinions on his shoulder, which has been left severely damaged by a post-operative infection suffered last year.

Cowboys coach Todd Payten said on Tuesday he felt for Morgan and hinted a decision on his future was imminent.

“We will get some more clarity in the next few days with where he is at,” he said.

“Until we get that, I can’t say too much more. We’ll have to wait and see.

“He has gone through a tough run. I see how much the town and the Cowboys means to Morgo. It’s a hard thing for me to watch.

“I see him putting in the effort and he is giving himself every opportunit­y to get his shoulder right. But we’ll see what happens moving forward.

“He trained (on Tuesday) but he didn’t do any contact, so that’s where he is at.”

Morgan has been attending Cowboys training sessions but has had to wear a “red cross” bib to ensure he isn’t involved in collisions.

He cut a sombre figure in the aftermath of North Queensland’s gutting Round 2 loss to the Dragons in Townsville, which ultimately proved to be his final appearance in his beloved Cowboys jersey.

 ?? SHAE BEPLATE ?? Retired
Cowboys star
Michael
Morgan with his wife
Brianna and daughter
Penelope in
Townsville yesterday where he announced his retirement
SHAE BEPLATE Retired Cowboys star Michael Morgan with his wife Brianna and daughter Penelope in Townsville yesterday where he announced his retirement

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