A surprised Michael Morgan has credited his NRL club combination with Johnathan Thurston for squeezing Daly Cherry-Evans out of the Queensland State of Origin team.
However, Morgan has baulked at suggestions a strong performance in July 8’s series decider will cement his Maroons spot ahead of the controversial Manly playmaker.
Queensland coach Mal Meninga credited Morgan’s versatility in a reshuffled backline for justifying brushing the man tipped to become a future Maroons captain – Cherry-Evans – for the Cowboys’ Mr Fixit.
But Morgan reckoned he owed his shock retention to one man – North Queensland halves partner Thurston.
Morgan has this year graduated from Cowboys fullback to pivot partnering Thurston in the high flying North Queensland side.
Asked how much his combination had to do with his retention as bench utility, Morgan said: “He’s been massive.
“I can’t thank him enough.
“Hopefully we can form a bit of a combination in game three.
“That last game there wasn’t a lot of opportunity – hopefully this time it opens up for us.”
Morgan also couldn’t forget the Cowboys and coach Paul Green for what he believed was their role in his selection.
“The way we’ve been playing for the Cowboys – the whole team – I have them to thank,” he said.
“Our forward pack have been doing a great job, they are a big reason why we have been on a winning streak and the way Greeny has been coaching us.
“The confidence he has shown in me gives me confidence.”
He may have pipped the incumbent Queensland halfback for a spot in the side but Morgan was not exactly considering himself an Origin selection lock.
“To be honest it wasn’t like I was sitting by the phone waiting for a call,” he said.
“I wasn’t really expecting it but very happy it has happened.
“(But) it’s a long time until the next one after this.”
Meninga admitted Morgan was the perfect option with a question mark over halfback Cooper Cronk (knee).
Morgan is also expected to spend time sharing fullback duties with Billy Slater’s replacement Greg Inglis.
“That (his versatility) was the ultimate tipping point for us,” Meninga said.
“For example if something happened to (winger) Darius (Boyd) we can put Greg on the wing and Michael at fullback.”
Meninga hinted that he preferred Morgan at fullback to ensure Inglis spends time resuming his combination with winger Boyd that has terrorised NSW’s right side defence.
Inglis has an Origin record 16 tries and Boyd has 15.
“Throughout the last three camps I have trained a few different positions – I have got to know my role a bit in the team,” Morgan said.