The fans’ focus is on Johnathan Thurston, but Brisbane great Darren Lockyer has warned the Broncos to keep extra close tabs on the champion halfback’s support cast in Sunday’s NRL grand final.
While Thurston is hogging the limelight after landing an unprecedented fourth Dally M Medal, Lockyer said he doubts North Queensland could win a premiership without unsung heroes like Michael Morgan, Lachlan Coote and Jake Granville.
Morgan has been a revelation for the Cowboys in 2015, bagging 15 tries in 22 games and making 21 line breaks to rank inside the league’s top-five attacking weapons.
The Cowboys weren’t the same team when the livewire five-eighth was sidelined for a month with an ankle injury in the lead-up to the finals.
Morgan’s value was also evident when he nailed down a Queensland State of Origin bench spot ahead of Manly superstar Daly Cherry-Evans.
“I’ve always thought for the Cowboys to win a grand final, they need a bit more than just Thurtson,” Lockyer told AAP.
“They’ve always had the forwards with (Matt) Scott and (James) Tamou, but they needed that other threat in the backline and that’s Morgan, and Coote takes the pressure off as well.”
Lockyer, who captained Brisbane to their last premiership win in 2006, has no doubt Broncos coach Wayne Bennett will be formulating a game plan to limit Thurston’s impact.
But he still urged the Broncos to tread with care, especially when dealing with other members of the Cowboys’ spine – Morgan, fullback Coote and hooker Granville.
“They did a good job on him when they played the first final so I know that’ll be the big focus of the Broncos – how they handle JT,” Lockyer said.
“But they’ve got to be careful. If you put too much focus on Thurston, Michael Morgan is likely to come up and bite you.
“I think Wayne is very good at coming up with defensive strategies to try and minimise the impact of the key players.
“Granville’s probably a bit of a threat out of dummy-half. He hasn’t run a lot out of dummy-half in recent weeks.
“Lachlan Coote as well. He’s played his part too.”