Morgan braced for Maroons back-up role
Cowboys five-eighth Michael Morgan knows Maroons selector Gene Miles is right on the money in saying Ben Hunt and Cameron Munster are the frontrunners to be Queensland's halves duo in the Holden State of Origin opener next month.
But the No.6 who plays alongside Johnathan Thurston each week and who at No.7 helped propel North Queensland into last year's Telstra Premiership grand final would like to put his hand up anyway.
Morgan has also played six times at No.6 in his 12 Tests for Australia.
"Look I'm not going to stand here and say 'Yes, I should be the halfback for Queensland' or anything like that," Morgan said in Sydney this week.
"If I was picked on the bench I'd be as happy as I would be if I was picked in the starting side. I mean that. I played centre in game three last year. So just to be picked in the side I'd be extremely happy with.
"Don't get me wrong. I'd love to start in the halves for Queensland but if it's not the case I'm not going to be kicking stones.
"It's not like I can be dirty or say it's unfair if Ben [Hunt] was picked at halfback because he's probably the best halfback in the comp at the moment the way he is playing. So it'd be hard to argue with, but I'd also love to be given the chance."
Morgan has been Queensland's go-to man for eight Origin games since his first in 2015. He wore No.14 for seven of them, and in the decider in the 2017 series he started at left centre after Darius Boyd [broken thumb] was forced to withdraw.
By any fair assessment, Morgan has done his apprenticeship and deserves a starting XIII spot in the Maroons for June 6 at the MCG.
But perhaps Miles is preparing Morgan for a let-down.
"Anyone that hasn't been impressed with [Hunt's] form in the first nine rounds is pretty hard to please," Miles said on Thursday.
Morgan feels the same about the Dragons No.7.
"He's playing very well. I'm really happy for him because I know him quite well. It's good to see," he said.
"He's obviously enjoying his footy, enjoyed the move [from Broncos], it's been a good one for him."
Morgan also knows his team's 3-7 start to the competition - and his part in that as one of the primary playmakers - is not helping the situation.
"I've been trying to get back being happy with where I am in club footy, because there's games this year I've come off the field and been really disappointed with how I played," Morgan said
"If I'm thinking or worrying about playing for Queensland or getting the starting spot in the halves, I won't be focused on what I need to do during the week for the Cowboys.
"I haven't let it become a distraction for myself and it won't be. We'll wait and see but hopefully I'm in there somewhere."
No doubt he will be, as the 26-year-old's versatility allows him to play in the halves, back row, centre and fullback.
Morgan also has the next two club games at home in Townsville against Origin-calibre combinations. He faces Souths pair Damien Cook and Adam Reynolds next Saturday before taking on Melbourne hotshots Cameron Smith and Cameron Munster in round 12.
The Origin teams for both Queensland and NSW will be named on May 28.
Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Tickets available at NRL.com/tickets.