North Queensland coach Paul Green says he won’t risk recovering playmaker Michael Morgan in their NRL qualifying final against Brisbane after the No.3 ranked Cowboys earned a play-off double chance.
Morgan has missed the past fortnight with an ankle injury but has been thrust back into the starting line-up for Saturday night’s match at Suncorp Stadium.
Green gave playmaker Johnathan Thurston (groin) the green light and was “quietly confident” his halves partner Morgan would emerge from Friday afternoon’s training unscathed.
“In such a big game you want your best players playing so we’ve given him every chance to get right,” Green said of Morgan.
“I’m reasonably confident Morgo will get through this afternoon.”
But Green hinted he would not be tempted to roll the dice with Morgan’s fitness this weekend with a finals double chance up their sleeve.
If North Queensland win they earn a preliminary final berth and a week off.
If they lose, they next week host the winner of Sunday’s Cronulla-South Sydney play-off.
“Given the fact that we do have a second chance regardless of what happens in the game on Saturday night we’re not going to take any stupid risks,” Green said of Morgan.
“We didn’t actually put a timeline on it to start with so again we’ll make our decision based on how well he trains and how he pulls up.”
Green said Thurston had overcome a niggle from last round’s big win over Gold Coast.
“He sort of felt it when he took one of the goal kicks last weekend so we were pretty cautious with him at the start of the week,” he said.
“But he trained well yesterday so he’s fine.”
North Queensland have won just two of their past seven finals matches – both in the first round in Townsville.
They have not won an away final since thrashing Parramatta 29-0 in the 2005 preliminary final, losing six straight.