He has had a breakthrough season and North Queensland are hopeful Michael Morgan will be fit to make a shock return for the NRL finals.
Cut down with a high ankle sprain against the Warriors in round 24, the Cowboys’ five-eighth was expected to be ruled out for four to six weeks.
But after returning to running at training this week, North Queensland coach Paul Green is optimistic the star playmaker will make an early return in their qualifying final against the Broncos in Brisbane in week one of the finals.
“I hope so,” he said.
“I’ll be saying my prayers and rubbing my rosary beads.
“We’ll see how he goes.
“He’s done a little bit of running.
“But again, we’re guaranteed – win, lose or draw – a second week in the finals, so we’re not going to take any unnecessary risks.
“I don’t need to say how good Morgo’s been at different times for us this year.
“We’ll welcome him back if he’s fit.”
The decision is likely to come early, with Green not willing to chance his side’s preparation on an 11th hour inclusion.
“We’ll give him every chance to be fit but, by the same token, we need to prepare well as a team,” he said.
“He plays a key role in that so, if he can’t do much of the training prep, then we will have to seriously look at whether it’s worth including him.”
If Morgan is fit to play, it will mean the Cowboys will enter their fifth straight finals campaign with a largely clean bill of health.
Only back Tautau Moga (knee) is missing from the top 17.
Another encouraging sign from Saturday night’s 42-12 win over Gold Coast was the return of James Tamou.
The prop sent shockwaves through the North Queensland camp against the Warriors when he was taken off on a stretcher with a suspected recurrence of the neck injury that threatened his career in 2014.
He returned against the Titans in style, scoring a try and racking up 132m, 32 tackles and three tackle breaks.
“I thought he was really good, there was no hint of hesitation in contact,” Green said.
“I thought he played nice and physical.”