At first, North Queensland coach Paul Green thought a Kangaroos call-up may distract Michael Morgan ahead of Saturday night’s NRL clash at Manly.
Then he cast his mind back to the Michael Morgan he first met when he took up the Cowboys reins in late 2013.
“He’s come a long way. He’ll be fine,” Green said.
Two years after questioning whether to even play again, Cowboys playmaker Morgan is poised to make his Test debut.
He was named on the Kangaroos bench for Friday week’s trans-Tasman clash in Newcastle.
Green marvelled at Morgan’s transformation.
Not so long ago Morgan was a broken man.
He had struggled with the shock April 2013 death of close friend and Cowboys teammate Alex Elisala, aged just 20.
He played just nine games overall for the Cowboys that year as he dealt with the tragic news.
“I could not be more proud,” Green said of Morgan.
“When I arrived here (ahead of the 2014 season) he had had a pretty tough year the season before.
“He was probably questioning his passion for the game, for different reasons.”
Green switched utility Morgan to fullback ahead of the 2014 season in the absence of the injured Lachlan Coote, with spectacular results.
Confidence gained from the switch helped Morgan establish himself as Johnathan Thurston’s perfect halves foil as they won the 2015 premiership.
“In that first year I asked him to take on a new challenge and play at fullback but he was fantastic with the way he attacked it,” Green said of Morgan’s fullback move.
“In hindsight it has improved his game and given him another perspective on the game.
“He brings versatility (to the Kangaroos) and is playing with plenty of confidence.
“You know he will bring something to the team.
“It’s a great reward. I’m really rapt for him.”