Recalled utility Ray Thompson has been instructed to resist attempting to copy injured five eighth Michael Morgan in North Queensland’s key NRL clash with Melbourne on Saturday.
Thompson returns to the NRL after a near two-month absence to replace Queensland Origin star Morgan, who is out indefinitely with a high ankle strain.
The Cowboys need a win at AAMI Park to stay in the hunt for a top-two finish and a guaranteed home final.
“My message to Ray is be Ray Thompson, don’t try and be Michael Morgan, and do your job,” said Cowboys coach Paul Green on Friday.
Thompson, 25, was happy to comply.
“Morgo’s a freak,” he said.
“I’m not going out there trying to be like White Lightning.
“I’ll just do my job and play my role as best I can.”
Thompson said he took little notice of rugby league experts who believe North Queensland is no longer a serious premiership contender without Morgan.
The five-eighth’s sensational NRL season has had flow-on effects for the Cowboys and particularly superstar skipper Johnathan Thurston, who has found greater freedom to weave his magic with Morgan by his side.
“Everyone’s got their own opinion,” Thompson said.
“It might be warranted because Morgo’s a great player, but we’ve got another bloke there called JT who’s pretty good himself.
“(Lachlan) Cootey’s been playing wonderful footy. We’ve got threats all over the park.”
Green said the Storm, and the rest of the NRL for that matter, would be fools if they were to re-double their focus on shutting down Thurston, now that Morgan was out of the picture.
“We’re more than just JT – I’ve been saying it all year. There’s more threats in our team than that,” Green said.
“If they do put extra attention it will open up an opportunity for someone else.”