Pressure on Australia: Morgan
Kangaroos five-eighth Michael Morgan says all the pressure is on Australia heading into their do-or-die semi-final clash with Fiji on Friday night.
Australia will start as unbackable favourites in Brisbane after putting together four comprehensive victories, with their stout defence consistently shutting teams out – so much so that they have not conceded a second-half point for the whole tournament.
The Bati on the other hand have punched well above their weight, making the World Cup semi-finals after a hard-fought 4-2 win over a New Zealand side ranked second in the world.
That victory means Fiji have gone through the competition undefeated, exceeding the expectations of many pundits who predicted that the Kiwis would be their demise.
It is the same story this week, with Morgan and his Australian teammates very much aware of the fact that they should be winning, and winning well on Friday night.
"There is definitely a lot more pressure on us as we are expected to win, and are expected to do well in this competition. There isn't that expectation on Fiji," Morgan said.
"It is a bit like us at the Cowboys this year. There was no expectation on us so I know firsthand how they'd be feeling and what their mindset will be. It's up to us to go out and make sure we perform well.
"When you're representing Australia you always want to play well. You don't want to have a bad game. You don't want to take the opportunity for granted. I think that in itself is enough motivation for us."
Although it looks as if Michael Morgan has taken over as the Kangaroos' long-term five-eighth, the 25-year-old cannot afford to perform poorly on Friday, with the likes of Cameron Munster and James Maloney both having spent time in the halves during the tournament.
Munster in particular has impressed in his first two matches in the Australia jersey, scoring four tries to look at home in the international arena.
But coach Mal Meninga has chosen Morgan as his preferred option in the No.6 jumper heading into the back end of the competition, preferring his experience with Morgan having now worn the green and gold jersey ten times.
Despite this vote of confidence, Morgan, who has hardly put a foot wrong during his Australian career, is not resting on his laurels, telling media that he needs to improve if he is to continue his reign at five-eighth.
"I wouldn't say [I've stamped myself as Australia's five-eighth]," he said.
"I still have plenty of work to do because there is still a lot of competition for the spot. I'm just glad I've still got the opportunity to stay there."