Now 24 and already with seven NRL seasons under his belt, Michael Morgan can surely lay claim to being a senior on-field leader within the North Queensland Toyota Cowboys.
In 2016, the gifted footballer produced another consistent season, punctuated by moments of brilliance.
The most notable of these moments was the smart inside line he ran to take a Johnathan Thurston flick pass and cross the line in extra time against the Broncos in that memorable elimination final in Townsville.
After making his State of Origin debut for the Queensland Maroons in 2015, Townsville product Morgan was in line for more rep honours when named to come off the bench in May’s annual Test against the Kiwis.
He was dynamic in that match, and was predictably selected in Kevin Walters’s Origin side weeks later.
He would then go on to play in the second – and series-clinching – match, but missed the third due to a knee injury.
All up, he missed five club games through injury, Origin duty and an enforced one-week spell on the sideline under the game’s concussion rules.
Morgan was selected in the Australian Kangaroos squad to contest the 2016 Four Nations tournament in England, lining up against the Kiwis in the Perth Test on 15 October and named to play from the bench against Scotland in the tournament opener.
Try assists: 20
Average tackles: 17
Tackle breaks: 61
Line breaks: 11