The advice of two of Queensland's best backs of modern times and the memory of a match-winning Origin moment have Michael Morgan steeled to play the game of his life at left centre for the Maroons on Wednesday night.
The Cowboys captain has rarely played in the centres during his career but did taste Intrust Super Cup premiership success with Mackay in the position back in 2013 before starring for the Maroons at right centre in 2017.
In camp with Morgan this week has been former Queensland centre Justin Hodges, the Maroons assistant coach, and legendary fullback Billy Slater who has been working with the back five.
"Having Hodgo here has been good for me. He's been in behind our defensive lines and keeping an eye on me," Morgan told NRL.com.
"He was obviously very good there for a long time so the more I can pick his brain and learn off him the better I will be.
"Billy [Slater] is real good in that regard too. He was half-coaching while he was playing so having him solely focussed on the back five now is very good for us. His knowledge of the game is one of the best I have ever known and in getting the point across. It is nice to have the ex-players here to learn off."
Morgan, who will fill a position made famous by former skipper Greg Inglis, was a success when he started at right centre in the deciding game three of the 2017 Origin series. The game before that he came off the bench to play at right centre when Will Chambers was injured to deliver a pearler of a flick pass for Dane Gagai to level the scores. Johnathan Thurston landed the conversion to give Queensland victory but it was Morgan's skill at centre that made it all possible.
"It is a great memory and I am lucky enough to have a few good ones with this team," Morgan said.
"Playing there before at this level does give me the confidence to know that I can get the job done.
"Greg Inglis obviously made that position his own for a long time and the history that is associated with that jersey because of him makes me really want to do my best there and make sure I do a good job."
Former Maroons centre Steve Renouf said Morgan was up to the task defensively and was wise to lean on Hodges' advice as he prepares to mark Blues centre Josh Morris.
"Hodgo is not far out of the game and defensively he was always really good. I think that experience and his advice will be a massive benefit to Michael," Renouf told NRL.com.
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 1 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
"He is marking Josh Morris and I reckon he is up to the task. Josh has been playing some good footy and has that big step and likes to straighten up, so Michael will have to watch that. I think Michael Morgan will be OK because he is solid defensively and has played in the centres before."
Renouf said Morgan had a golden opportunity in attack to make the most of the Cameron Munster and Kalyn Ponga combination down the left side.
"He's got Munster inside of him and Ponga floating around and as a centre you just need to be backing them up," Renouf said.
"Nine times out of 10 they are making half breaks so Michael has to make sure he pushes forward off their breaks. If he does then he will make inroads."
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