Morgan will silence doubters in centre
Queensland second-row forward Gavin Cooper has backed teammate Michael Morgan to silence the doubters when he runs out for the Maroons in the centres on Wednesday night.
With Melbourne Storm's Cameron Munster being been picked to start at Morgan's preferred position of five-eighth, Morgan has been pushed into unfamiliar territory.
Centre is a position Morgan has never started in during his 117-game NRL career, but Queensland coach Kevin Walters has seen enough of Morgan's versatility to entrust him with the added responsibility on the Maroons' left edge.
It will be the first time Morgan has started a game at State of Origin level, and although he has never started in the centres in first grade, it is a position he has some experience in.
Morgan played centre for the Mackay Cutters during their 2013 Intrust Super Cup grand final victory, and he also filled in for Greg Inglis in the position when Inglis broke down midway through the Australian Kangaroos' win over Scotland at the 2016 Four Nations.
But his most important play in the position was during Game Two of this year's Origin series.
Subbed on with nine minutes to go, Morgan replaced the concussed Will Chambers late in the match.
The 25-year-old was on the field for just five minutes before he set up Dane Gagai's match-winning try with some quick footwork and a beautiful offload – keeping Queensland's hopes of an 11th series win in 12 years well and truly alive.
It is clear Morgan can produce the big plays in the position and that is what Cooper expects to see from him on Wednesday night.
"Morgo has shown for a long time that he's a natural footballer. He understands the game and he defends really well," Cooper told NRL.com
"It doesn't matter whether he's defending in the middle at Origin level or at an international level... He will do the job.
"He's defended on the edge for the [North Queensland] Cowboys and at centre for Queensland like he did during Game Two. He's just so versatile.
"He's shown he can do a job wherever you put him and we'll see that again in Game Three."
Cooper will be next to Morgan on Queensland's left, something that seemed unlikely at the start of the series after Cooper was overlooked for Game One.
But after the Maroons were belted 28-4 in that match, Cooper was recalled to the side for Game Two, and he repaid the selectors with a huge performance that many thought could have seen the second-rower named Man of the Match.
His 47 tackles and 108 metres were instrumental in helping secure Queensland's 18-16 victory, but for Cooper these individual statistics do not matter.
Instead he is just enjoying being back in the Origin arena - grateful he is getting another opportunity to play for the Maroons.
"I wasn't surprised [when I was recalled]. I was always hopeful," he said.
"Kevvie said I was still very much in the mix when we had a chat the night before they announced the Game One team.
"I didn't think I'd make way back into the team during a time of such sweeping changes.
"I thought if I was going to get a shot in this team this year it would have come through injury but they made the changes.
"It's not for me to decide who is in and out of the team, but I'm glad I'm here."