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Ikuvalu ready to step into mentor Morris' big shoes

The Roosters knew it was coming but that did nothing to ease the sadness when champion winger Brett Morris officially confirmed his retirement on Monday.

Matt Ikuvalu, the man who has replaced Morris on the right flank, said he was "shaking a bit because I was a bit emotional" when he spoke to the 34-year-old, who blew out his knee in round eight.

With Morris deciding to hang up the boots, Ikuvalu has an opportunity to secure a first-grade spot after spending most of his career to date as a bit-part player, albeit a very handy one.

On Monday, though, his focus was on his predecessor as Morris addressed his teammates then held a media conference at the SCG.

"I've grown pretty attached to B-Moz," Ikuvalu told in the lead-up to Saturday's clash with the Titans.

"He's been a good mentor of mine ... He's just such a great player and he's had an amazing career. It's sad to see how he went out but he's got nothing to prove, so he's pretty happy with that.

Coaching aspiration galvanizes retired Morris

"He was the winger that was in front of me [in the NRL team] but I also grew up watching him play.

"And when I moved into his spot when he got injured, he's been so much help to me in the sense of telling me what I can work on and what my strengths are, building my confidence in that position."

Morris will remain in the Roosters' inner-sanctum as he learns the coaching ropes and Ikuvalu said he "couldn't think of anyone else I'd want to have at the club as a mentor either".

"It's not the best way to go about it, but now I'm in that spot I want to do whatever I can [to keep it]," said Ikuvalu, who is contracted until the end of 2022. "Obviously, they're big shoes to fill so I need to lock that spot down as mine."

Daniel Tupou, meanwhile, has been chuffed to play on the wing opposite to Morris since the veteran's arrival at the Roosters in 2019.

"Most of us sort of knew the way he felt after the Newcastle game [when he was hurt]. It wasn't a surprise but it was just when he was ready to make it official," Tupou said on Tuesday.

"It was devastating for the club. The type of player he was, it's a massive loss. I'm glad he can walk off knowing that he's accomplished all there is to do in the game.

"I was pretty honoured and grateful to play alongside him and also watch him play when I was a little kid."

Tedesco to Ikuvalu for the opener

Together the pair won a premiership in 2019 and a World Club Challenge.

"We felt the chemistry there straight away on the first day of pre-season. We worked over the pre-season leading up to the 2019 season and we just gelled straight away," Tupou added.

"[He helped with] just little things of self-discipline and self-confidence. It was pretty cool to be able to play with him."

Five-eighth Lachlan Lam, who made his debut alongside Morris two years ago, also paid tribute to the all-time great finisher.

"For what he's achieved in the game, it's been pretty cool to play with him. I grew up watching him and it was pretty special," Lam said.

Acknowledgement of Country

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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