Josh Morris stakes claim for Blues jersey
It was the moment Josh Morris knew he was back.
Morris was playing only his third game for the season last weekend after suffering a posterior cruciate ligament tear in his right knee in round 1.
If ever there was a chance to prove to everybody that he had overcome the injury, with Origin just around the corner, this was it.
There isn’t much bigger tests in rugby league at the moment than coming up against inform Australian centre Justin Hodges one-on-one.
The Bulldogs may have lost the game, but Morris passed the examination with flying colours.
Another big game for Country Origin on Friday night could see him achieve a lifelong dream of playing State of Origin alongside his twin brother Brett.
“I think the test on the weekend against Justin Hodges was really good,” Morris told NRL.com.
“He is a quality centre and I managed to keep him scoreless, so it was a big confidence boost for me.
“The leg has come through the Broncos game really well and it is only going to get better as the weeks progress.”
Morris was seemingly in career best form in round 1 before an injury late in the game cruelled what had appeared to be the perfect start to the year.
He had run straight over two Wests Tigers defenders on his way to a scintillating 90-metre try, before making another line-break in the second half, running 40 metres and offloading to set up the match-winning try.
But in that action, Morris damaged his knee and he was forced to sit on the sidelines for five weeks.
The Bulldogs centre was always confident that he would be back in time to push his claims for a sky-blue jersey.
“We were always hopeful I’d be back this early,” he said.
“(Bulldogs physiotherapist) Tony Ayoub and (head conditioner) Tony Grimaldi really got stuck into me and we worked hard in the gym and with the physio and rehab.
“It was good to get back in round 7, it was a little bit frustrating to be injured, but that happens in football. You just have to stay as confident as you can.”
Morris was still sporting tape around his knee at Country’s training session, but he insisted it was merely a precautionary measure.
He is ready for a big performance in front of NSW coach Ricky Stuart.
Mark Gasnier is widely tipped to play right centre for the Blues, but the left three-quarter position is still well and truly open.
And with brother Brett playing on the wing for Australia against New Zealand, the prospect of the two linking on the left flank for the Blues is a very real possibility.
“It would be very special,” Josh said.
“We played a Test together in France and had a great time there. It is something that we have talked about and it would be great if it happened.
“The thought of playing alongside him for the Blues is a big incentive for me, but you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself.”