Morgan: I want to be No.1
Not six weeks months ago, a young halfback stepped onto the footy field and couldn't help feeling out of place.
For the first time in his career, Michael Morgan had the No.1 on his back, as a result of yet another heartbreaking injury to full-time custodian Lachlan Coote.
Fast forward a few weeks and the Auckland Nines success story has made his intentions clear – he wants to stay.
In the wake of his starring role against Newcastle on Monday night, the 22 year-old says he is thankful for the confidence shown in him by head coach Paul Green and looks to make the spot his own.
"That's the goal at the moment. I was given an opportunity and that's what I have been hoping to do," said Morgan, who has been bounced around in various roles throughout the past two seasons.
"I'm loving it, I'm really enjoying it."
While Morgan has not looked to emulate anyone specific in acclimatising as a custodian, he has picked up little things from other fullbacks league-wide.
"Not really, I haven't thought about that too much. I've looked at a bit [of film] with 'Greeny' (Cowboys coach Paul Green), I've tried to do a bit of vision on guys who have been around doing it for a while, and bring that into my game.
"A bit of defensive stuff on guys like [Anthony] Minichiello, I've looked at a bit of [Billy] Slater position-wise.
"Not too much attacking with the ball because we have different structures [to other teams]."
When asked if he ever doubted whether the gig was right for him, Morgan said he had always remained positive.
"I knew I wouldn't pick it up straight away. It is a difficult position; there is a lot more to it than what I first thought.
"From not playing fullback before, I just thought it was a matter of ‘catch the ball and run it back' but there's a lot more to it and I've been trying to work hard on it. I'm always trying to do extra before and after training and I think it's starting to pay off."
And pay off it did in the 28-2 win over the Knights. Morgan put in arguably the best performance of any Cowboy all season, racking up two tries, a try assist, one line break and 124 run metres as his side arrested a three-game losing streak.
"We have been working on playing with a bit more depth. I am getting a lot more comfortable there as the weeks go by," said the 22-year-old. "I still have a lot to learn but I am enjoying it, which helps."
While Green also saw progress from Monday, he noted that the team needs to keep persevering with the playmaking group. Rome wasn't built in a day after all.
"I had to [give them time to adjust]. We trained all pre-season up until the Nines with Lachlan Coote at fullback," Green said.
"It's a key position in a team and we have moved a guy there who has never played there, so if anyone expects us to be humming in attack with a guy in those sorts of circumstances, they're kidding themselves. It was always going to take time, and we're not there yet."
With still a lot to learn, Morgan at least knows what to expect from both opponents and teammates.
"I expect [the high kicks] every week. Teams are going to want to do that, and we do it ourselves, we test the fullback out," he said. "Being a new fullback, it's what I expect every week.
"I don't mind. I do it every day at training, I practise it every day. It's part of the position. I don't have to tackle, so my job is to get the ball when they do kick it down after the rest of the boys are finished defending.
"[Lui and Thurston] are both very good talkers on the field so I do split and go either side, so whichever one of them wants me to be on their side, I have got to get there as quick as I can. They do a lot of talking and helping me out which is good."
From never having played fullback just weeks ago to it quickly becoming his favourite position, it is safe to say the Townsville-born product may hold onto that jersey for a little while longer.