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Morris's Origin heroics inspiring a new generation of Blues

The surprise recall of veteran centre Josh Morris has given NSW coach Brad Fittler a real life example for his players of what it takes to win a series-opening State of Origin match against Queensland at Suncorp Stadium.

Morris, who has come out of representative retirement to play right centre for the Blues, has been constantly asked by team-mates about his heroics in the opening match of the 2014 series when he ignored a serious knee injury to chase down Greg Inglis in the dying minutes of NSW’s 12-8 win.

The 32-year-old is the only member of the Blues side to have played that match, in which his twin Brett ignored the pain of a fractured shoulder for more than 60 minutes and also produced a try-saving tackle on Darius Boyd shortly before full-time.

“That was pretty special to go up to Suncorp in the 100th game [of Origin] and win, especially the way we did it with the blokes we had injured,” Morris said.

“There was myself, Brett did his shoulder, Anthony Watmough did his bicep and Beau Scott collapsed from exhaustion after the game. That was the type of effort we needed to win Game I and then the boys were able to come back to Sydney and win Game II.

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“It was a pretty special moment, sitting in those sheds after Game I and looking around at everyone exhausted but happy that we had got the job done.”

With 11 NSW debutants in last year’s series winning squad and another five newcomers selected by Fittler for next Wednesday night’s opening match at Suncorp, the young Blues players have been asked about their Origin memories and all have mentioned Morris’s feats.

Before selecting Morris, Fittler said he and his coaching staff had watched footage of the Cronulla centre pushing aside a trainer after being told he’d ruptured his ACL to chase down a runaway Inglis and save the game for NSW.

“A couple of the boys have asked about the 2014 series and what it was like,” Morris said.

“Wherever I can I am happy to help out as much as possible.”

Asked if that was the type of effort the Blues would need to win next Wednesday night, Morris said: “100 per cent. The boys are defending champs so they have got to work twice as hard now to retain it and Queensland have got a young side full of talent who are hungry to get the job done”.

Morris is one of just six Blues players to have experienced success at Suncorp Stadium, along with fullback James Tedesco, second-rowers Boyd Cordner and Tyson Frizell, prop David Klemmer and lock Jake Trbojevic – all of whom were members of the 2017 team for Origin I.

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His last appearance for NSW was in the opening game of the 2016 series, and Cordner and Klemmer were the only members of the current team to have made their Origin debuts.

He played the first of his 14 Origins in 2009, with his first starting appearance being in the infamous “up-and-under for an all-in” series finale at Suncorp Stadium.

The Blues lost the series but won a fiery encounter. Trent Waterhouse was sent off after a brawl in which NSW prop Brett White KO’d his Maroons counterpart Steve Price and Queensland captain Darren Lockyer ordered Cameron Smith to put up a bomb from the penalty re-start.

As NSW fullback Kurt Gidley caught the ball, Maroons players piled on him and Justin Hodges chased Ben Creagh into the in-goal.

The Blues got a penalty and the last play of the game featured Queensland defenders chasing furiously after the ball as the Blues threw it around knowing whoever got caught in possession would get pummelled.

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“My actual starting game was the infamous game where Brett White knocked out Steve Price, then they got the penalty and put the bomb high so I’ve been involved in some big games at Suncorp Stadium,” Morris said.

“It was a baptism of fire and we got the win there as well. Queensland had already won the series but they were looking to win 3-0 and we were able to go up there and stop the clean sweep.”

However, NSW did not win a series until 2014 and while he was unable to play in the match which ended the Maroons’ eight-year Origin domination Morris said he still felt part of the win.

“Me and Brett sat on the sidelines in Game II and when Trent Hodkinson did his show-and-go and scored we were going off. After the game, the scenes in the sheds were pretty special,” Morris said.

“Obviously we would have liked to have been in that series-winning game but we busted our arses in the first game and got the win, and the boys were able to finish it off.”

Now playing under his fourth Blues coach since first being selected by Craig Bellamy a decade ago, Morris said he was hoping to help NSW win back-to-back series for the first time since 2005.

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“There’s not too many here from the last time I played and Queensland’s playing squad as well, I don’t think I have played too many of them in Origin either,” he said.

“It’s a completely different look and it is exciting. If you had told me at the start of the season I would be playing Origin I would have laughed at you but I am here now and I'm enjoying every moment of it.

“You do feel a little bit older but it also gives you a bit of energy too, that you can go out and match it with these young guys.

“I’ve had a bit of success at Suncorp Stadium and I will look to take that into the game on Wednesday night.”

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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