Michael Morgan has settled into Camp Maroon but remains unsure if he will actually make his State of Origin debut next week in Sydney.
The in-form Cowboys star replaces Daly Cherry-Evans (shoulder) as Queensland’s utility option off the bench, but whether he will figure against NSW remains to be seen.
The Blues have named four forwards on their bench and on Tuesday brought in two more in Tyson Frizell and Ryan James as development players to run with the rest of the squad.
Coach Mal Meninga has the option to switch Morgan for 18th man Dylan Napa up his sleeve and may choose to keep NSW guessing for a little while yet.
“I’m honestly not 100 per cent sure,” Morgan said.
“It’s still early so things might change.
“A week’s a long time in rugby league, so whichever way they decide to go with it I’m just going to enjoy the experience.”
It’s an experience that Morgan, one of the NRL’s form players over the last few weeks, richly deserves.
But the 23-year-old said it was one he didn’t see coming, despite his red-hot performances for ladder leaders North Queensland – in particular, his three-try effort against the Broncos last weekend, which saw the calls for his Origin inclusion grow ever louder.
“I knew Daly would be in but only because he deserved to be there,” he said.
“He’s been there, done it.
“Queensland’s been a very loyal team to the players and so they should be – they’ve had a lot of success over the years and it’s a quality side.”
It wasn’t until after Cowboys training in Townsville on Tuesday afternoon, when the guessing game over Cherry-Evans’ fitness was in full swing, that Morgan received the call.
“One of the boys at training yesterday (said) they read somewhere that at the time I was on a plane to Brissy,” he said.
“After training yesterday our CEO Peter Parr and (Paul) Greeny called me in.
“I was about to jump in the showers and they grabbed me and told me that I’d be going down and that Daly was in doubt.”
Morgan’s Cowboys and now Queensland teammate Matt Scott said he had played himself into a Maroons jersey.
“He’s just put himself in a position where you can’t not pick him,” he said.
And with an understanding with playmaker Johnathan Thurston already bedded down, Morgan could be crucial in Queensland’s plans to nullify the threat of the Blues big men – that is, if Meninga doesn’t choose to fight fire with fire.
“With a big pack like that, if we can win the ruck and get our line moving forward, that’s the best way to defend against players like that,” Scott said.
“The guys they’ve picked, they’re not traditional big front-rowers – they’re very fit, fast, agile for their size.
“Look at Jimmy Tamou for example – he’s 118kg and runs like an outside back.
“I think the style will suit Origin, depending on what the ruck speed’s like – they could be very damaging.”