Morgan in doubt with chronic groin issue
The Cowboys will delay their decision on whether Michael Morgan backs up from State of Origin duty as the star playmaker manages a chronic groin injury he will likely carry for the rest of the season.
Morgan only participated in light duties at Friday's captain's run before North Queensland's clash with Parramatta at what is hoped to be a packed-out TIO Stadium in Darwin. His Queensland teammates Gavin Cooper and Coen Hess are set to line up on Saturday night.
Morgan has been carrying a groin issue for some time, but the Cowboys are confident it won't sideline their marquee man for any significant period or require surgery during the season.
However, whether he takes to the paddock 72 hours after a gruelling Origin encounter will be decided on game day.
"They pulled up pretty well, Morgo's probably the only one in doubt," coach Paul Green said of his Origin contingent.
"He didn't do too much today, he's still a bit sore so we'll make a decision on him tomorrow.
"It's a groin issue, it's a bit of a chronic thing it's ongoing. A couple of days rest and he gets better, then obviously he plays a game and it gets sore again. That's probably going to be the case for the rest of the year.
"We're giving him as much time as possible, [the three-day turnaround] is certainly on the shorter end.
"We've got to keep the big picture in mind but it would be good to have him out there just the same."
Green lauded Morgan's contribution to a losing Queensland cause after just one training session at fullback once Billy Slater was a late withdrawal from game one.
With the Maroons found wanting up the middle by NSW, Cowboys co-captain Matt Scott is well and truly in the frame for an Origin recall.
Given the mass exodus of senior Queensland figures this series Green admits he was surprised by Scott's game one omission from Kevin Walters' squad, but backed the 32-year-old to force the Queensland coach's hand.
"Just given the experience Queensland have lost I was a little bit surprised but I could see where Kevvie was going with it," Green said.
"The carrot's been dangled there for him, Kevvie's mentioned his name so he's got the next two games before they pick the team again for Origin II.
"He's been around long enough to know what he needs to do. Hopefully, that carrot's enough to pull out a couple of big games."
Meanwhile, Johnathan Thurston expects to have plenty of traffic sent his way by Parramatta given the success their hit men have had against him over the years.
While longtime nemesis Beau Scott (ACL) won't feature on Saturday night, the likes of Manu Ma'u and Nathan Brown pack more than enough physicality to keep Thurston on his toes.
The veteran No.7 blew up last week over the late hit by Manly's Jack Gosiewski that was described by champion half Andrew Johns as a "dog shot".
Gosiewski is out for the next six weeks with a broken arm but will only serve a one-week suspension for the tackle, however Thurston was reluctant to comment on the length of the ban.
"It always happens when we come up against Parra but I'm sure the officials will adjudicate that," Thurston said.
"Like I said after the game the match review committee will deal with foul play so I'm sure if they hit me late the officials will deal with it. But I'd like to think that we play the sport in the right way and hopefully it doesn't happen."