Fullback stint adds string to Morris's bow
On Wednesday night in Origin II, Bulldogs fullback Brett Morris gets the chance to add his name to a long list of NRL fullbacks who have excelled on the wing at Origin level, and his stint in the No.1 jersey at Canterbury may help him become an even better representative winger than he already is.
The likes of Jarryd Hayne, who starred on the wing for the Blues over many years while wearing the No.1 for Parramatta, and Maroons flanker Darius Boyd – Origin's equal greatest ever try-scorer playing outside Greg Inglis despite wearing the No.1 for the Broncos, Dragons and Knights, are recent notable examples.
Morris has been arguably the best winger in the world for a number of years and while his debut season as an NRL fullback has been interrupted by a hamstring injury that saw him miss Origin I, those five games at the back for the Bulldogs will stand him in good stead.
That's according to Blues fullback Josh Dugan, himself something of a utility back having played centre for the Blues last year and wing in his Test debut earlier this year.
Dugan was also looking forward to having Morris help him out on tough kick returns when the Blues are working the ball out of their own end.
"Yeah it's going to be massive. 'BMoz', I think he would have learned a lot from playing fullback from his time at the Dogs," Dugan said.
"It does help having another fullback and specialist winger there to help me out so he's a massive boost for the team and he's not going to let anyone down."
Dugan's Dragons were downed by Morris's Bulldogs – the first time the son of St George great Steve Morris had lined up against the Red V, having joined forces with twin Josh at Canterbury-Bankstown this year.
Dugan said Morris had played impressively in that game given his two-month layoff.
"He had a hand in a try and was good defensively as well. He was a big boost for the Dogs and he'll be a boost for us as well.
"As that last line of defence as a fullback you need to come up with those plays and he's one player that does."
Dugan said as a player you learn a lot about positional play when you learn different positions.
"Playing fullback and wing, being a specialist winger going to fullback, you do learn a lot and you learn where you need to be positionally and I think BMoz is still learning," Dugan said of his former Dragons teammate.
"He's definitely becoming one of those great fullbacks that is everywhere. That's just one of the things you need to do. You need to be always on your toes, you're following the ball everywhere and that sort of thing. As a winger going to fullback and back to wing for State of Origin, I think it's going to help him. He's a smart player as is but I think it'll help him in the sense that he'll be able to read the game a bit better."
Morris himself, preparing for his first game on the wing since leaving the Dragons last year, agreed his time at fullback may have added an extra string to his bow.
"Playing fullback, there's a lot more work that you need to do and I think being on the wing I'll be able to get in there and do a little bit more work," Morris told NRL.com.
"Obviously with the fitness that I've gained from playing at fullback it will definitely help and I'm just excited that I've got the opportunity to play Origin again.
"It definitely helps if you can play a couple of positions. If there's an injury or what-not they know you're capable of moving to the back or helping out the team in certain other ways so it definitely helps being able to play a couple of positions and if you look at most blokes in the backline in rep sides they can play numerous positions which is good."
Dragons lock Trent Merrin was also pleased to have Morris back in sky blue.
"He's great BMoz, he's got a lot of experience at Origin level. He's just a competitor. You know what you're going to get from BMoz, he's always going to be there for you.
"He proved to everyone that he can play wing and fullback. It's great for 'Loz' [coach Laurie Daley] to have that available for him if he needs it."