I had to pull my finger out: Morgan

Michael Morgan realised he “had to pull (his) finger out” or else accept the burden of North Queensland’s seemingly doomed NRL campaign when Johnathan Thurston suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

Morgan has become the story of the finals series as he guided the battered and bruised eighth-placed Cowboys to the most unlikely of grand final appearances.

But when Thurston went down in June, it took just a moment for him to realise the enormity of what stood in front of him.

“It was time I pulled my finger out,” Morgan said.

“I couldn’t just be a second fiddle any more. JT wasn’t there … I had to stand up and face the challenge of it.

“If we didn’t go well it would come back to me as well.”

Morgan’s fingerprints have been all over the Cowboys’ finals run.

He had a hand in all three of his team’s tries in their win over the Sydney Roosters on Saturday night, while he has kicked the second field goal of his career after his first came in extra time against Cronulla in week one.

He was also their best in the semi-final win over Parramatta last week, but his influence can’t solely be measured in point-scoring plays or 40-20 kicks.

Morgan’s composure and control has been a key element in ensuring the Cowboys have completed at 86 per cent this finals series – the the highest of all the eight sides.

“I just changed my mindset with how I was thinking about the game (when Thurston was injured),” Morgan said.

“Staying in the game for longer periods, when someone like Jono is here he controls the game really well. I probably have a tendency at times to drift in and out of games.

“That was probably my biggest problem. I had to make sure I was staying in the game and constantly knowing what was going on.”

Such has the Morgan story consumed the Cowboys’ run to the grand final, coach Paul Green told journalists to play back the tape for answers to previous questions about the halfback when he was quizzed on Saturday night.

Morgan too, is well aware of the hype.

“I feel a little bit bad at times because for the last few weeks I’ve had a few raps,” Morgan said.

“The biggest thing that has helped me is the guys around me and there’s no doubt that the other guys knew that when they came in I wasn’t JT and there was no pressure internally to play like him for myself.

“The team was patient with me at times and it was good because as a team we continued to build. Now we’re at the point where we’re taking our opportunities.”

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