Michael Morgan wasn’t even in high school when Cameron Smith made his first-grade debut.
But the Melbourne captain has identified the North Queensland young gun as the man the Storm need to get a handle on, if they are to win Saturday’s NRL preliminary final at AAMI Park
Of course Johnathan Thurston runs the Cowboys show but Morgan’s ability on the other side of the ruck has allowed the Townsville-based outfit to move within one game of a grand final.
Morgan, 23, can turn a good year in which his made his Queensland debut, into a great one if he can steer the Cowboys into next week’s grand final against Brisbane.
“He is a very impressive young footballer, when I first laid eyes on him in Origin camp when he came in as an 18th man I was impressed with his ability not to let the occasion get to him,” 32-year-old Smith said.
“He was coming into a State of Origin camp with a lot of experienced players some of whom he probably looked up to as a young fella, but it didn’t affect him.
“He is a wonderful footballer. He is young and confident and we had a bit of a joke in Origin camp that he was in year six when I made my first grade debut so shows my age.
“He is just a guy that backs himself every time he has the footy in his hand.”
Morgan returned from an ankle injury in the qualifying loss to Brisbane when he struggled, but enjoyed a much-improved outing in the thumping of Cronulla last week.
He didn’t play in the Cowboys’ 14-6 loss to Melbourne in round 25 at AAMI Park, the last time these two sides met.
“It doesn’t change a whole lot for us as to how we are looking to approach the game,” Smith said.
“Our left side has a fair bit of work to do defensively given his speed, he is one of the fastest guys in the game,” Smith said.
“His strongest attribute is his running game, as a half he doesn’t tend to ball play or use the footy he just backs himself to run.
“He did that last week, he has done that on several occasions this year and broken the game wide open so our left side are ready. They have done a lot of homework on him and I’m sure they will do a good job on him.”