Brisbane are bracing to face North Queensland’s strike weapon Michael Morgan in Saturday’s NRL qualifying final with statistics showing he shapes as their winning edge.
The Cowboys playmaker is rated likely to take the field for the Suncorp Stadium clash after making an earlier than expected recovery from an ankle injury.
Morgan missed the past two weeks but has resumed running thanks to an anti-gravity treadmill and is now ahead of schedule after initial fears his season was over.
The feeling of using the treadmill is described as akin to space flight. It decreases the strain on joints and is used in the rehabilitation of injured military personnel.
Morgan’s return would be a boon for the Cowboys’ tilt to claim their first premiership in their 20 year history after securing just their second ever top four finish.
Not only has Morgan proved himself a perfect foil for Johnathan Thurston, statistics show they are a more potent side with him in the line up.
Although the Cowboys have lost just one of their five matches without the Queensland State of Origin representative this year, they are a try better when Morgan is on the pitch.
According to Fox Sports Stats, Paul Green’s side have averaged 25.9 points when he is playing but that drops to 19 points when he is out.
“Morgo’s been there all year, he played Origin and came back with a spring in his step,” back-rower Gavin Cooper said at the launch of the NRL finals in Sydney on Monday.
“What he brings to the side is pretty dynamic. He runs the ball very well and he’s one of the quickest at our club if not in the league.
“I’ve seen him save some tries that no one else would have caught.
“He’s a big part of what we do.”
Brisbane captain Justin Hodges said Morgan gave the Cowboys an added dimension because he gave them variation in attack.
While sides might be tempted to spend their preparation brainstorming a way to nullify Thurston, Hodges said they did so at the risk of opening up the game for Morgan.
The last time the two teams met, Morgan scored a hat-trick including the 70th minute barge-over try which proved the match-winner in their 31-20 victory in Townsville.
“It just goes to show if you put too much pressure on one player you tend to forget about the other players who can put points on you,” Hodges said.
“We know what type of player Morgo is; he’s very fast and agile on his feet and I’m sure he’s going to be up for a big game.”