Recovering North Queensland pivot Michael Morgan is confident of playing Saturday night’s NRL qualifying final against Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium.
Cowboys coach Paul Green on Friday could not guarantee Morgan would overcome an ankle complaint that had sidelined him for the past fortnight.
But Morgan – who trained strongly on Friday – backed himself to be right for the derby after not being preoccupied by his recovering ankle during recent sessions.
“I wasn’t favouring my leg at all (at training) so there is no reason why I should be thinking about it,” he told The Townsville Bulletin.
“It is a bit of a relief because I didn’t want to be going into a game thinking about it and I said from the start that if I wasn’t confident on it, I wouldn’t play.”
Green said he would not roll the dice with Morgan’s fitness this weekend with a finals double chance up their sleeve.
If No.3 ranked North Queensland win they earn a preliminary final berth and a week off.
If they lose, they next week host the winner of Sunday’s Cronulla-South Sydney playoff.
“Given the fact that we do have a second chance regardless of what happens in the game on Saturday night we’re not going to take any stupid risks,” Green said of Morgan.
“We didn’t actually put a timeline on it (Morgan’s recovery) to start with so we’ll make our decision based on how well he trains and how he pulls up.”
Green said playmaker Johnathan Thurston had overcome a groin niggle from last round’s big win over Gold Coast.
“He sort of felt it when he took one of the goal kicks last weekend so we were pretty cautious with him at the start of the week,” he said.
“But he trained well yesterday so he’s fine.”
North Queensland have won just two of their past seven finals matches – both in the first round in Townsville.
They have not won an away final since thrashing Parramatta 29-0 in the 2005 preliminary final, losing six straight.
No.2 ranked Brisbane – hosting their first home final since 2011 – have a lousy 0-3 playoff record against North Queensland.
Brisbane’s master mentor Wayne Bennett incredibly has a 0-8 career finals coaching record at Suncorp Stadium.