With strength, speed and football smarts, Michael Morgan shapes as a key figure for the Cowboys during the upcoming Origin Series.

Cowboys confident of avoiding Origin slump


Cowboys fullback Michael Morgan has played down concerns of another poor showing without his side's Origin stars when North Queensland – more resemblant of their Auckland Nines outfit – take the field against Canberra on Sunday.

This time of year almost systematically draws critics for the Cowboys, and for good reason. In the last 10 games without their Origin men, they are 3-7 with an average loss of almost 16 points.

But Morgan says things are different this year under rookie head coach Paul Green, pointing toward the structures the new boss put in place through a tough pre-season.

“(The criticism) happens every year (at this time) but this year with the structures we have in place. If boys do their job then I’m sure we’ll be all right because that’s what we’ve built on this year,” Morgan said.

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“The last few weeks have been on the back of everyone doing their job, so I think if the boys can do that we’ll be all right.

“It is going to be a huge challenge missing our most experienced players but in saying that it just creates opportunity for other boys to come up and give it their best.”

The Cowboys will usually travel one day prior to an away game but Green has given his young side an extra day for acclimating to the tough Canberra conditions – known as one of the harshest places to play football in the country.

The squad touched down on Friday afternoon and had a light afternoon session to iron out the last of the kinks before game day.

“Hopefully (the extra preparation day) gives us a chance to get used to it a bit," Morgan said.

"We’re going to be training at the time we’re playing as well which helps so it will just give us an idea of what it’s going to be like. (The session) will get us moving a bit after the flight down and get us warmed up out of the cold a bit.

“I’m not the biggest fan of the cold. I had a little look at the weather, it shouldn’t be too bad. It’s a high of 18 (degrees) so hopefully it’s right up there when we’re kicking off.”

This weekend’s team to face the Raiders will feature 11 of the 16-man squad sent over to Auckland to compete in the inaugural Nines.

And while over three months ago now, Morgan says his side can only take confidence from the partnerships made in a successful pre-season campaign.

“The group that played there had fun together I think that was the biggest thing. We all enjoyed it and I think when you’re enjoying it, it makes a big difference," he said.

“(Canberra are) desperate but every game is a hard game. We’re not going to be able to go down there and run all over them just because they had a couple of big losses a few weeks ago. But they’ll know that we have a few out and lift for that and really try and make sure they get a win this week.”