Morgo's rise as clutch play specialist
By Dylan Morris, North Queensland Correspondent, NRL.com
It's been easy for North Queensland Toyota Cowboys halfback Michael Morgan to fly under the radar in recent years with Johnathan Thurston playing main fiddle for so long, but the quiet, modest playmaker has undoubtedly got the killer instinct that can't be taught.
His flick passes have pulled grand finals back from the edge of defeat, as well as helped level a State of Origin series, and against the Cronulla Sharks last week Morgan's first ever NRL field goal ended his opposition's hopes of a premiership defence in a game where the Cowboys were meant to be cannon fodder.
Wrecking ball Jason Taumalolo believes Morgan's talent for coming up with clutch plays is a product of playing amongst the best for so long, including Johnathan Thurston at club level and Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith in representative sides.
"What better game to do it than finals footy, a do-or-die game too, that's full credit to 'Morgs'," Taumalolo said.
"He's been in the back seat to 'Johnno' for the last couple of years and to see him step up and pull off his first ever field goal is definitely special.
"I think that's just the player he is and the person, the leader, he's become."
Morgan himself made it look like he'd done it a hundred times before, taking the ball with seconds left, scooping under it to get it over the heads of the charging Cronulla defenders, before casually turning away to get on with the next five minutes of football.
Morgan puts his clutch moments down to happy circumstances, perhaps more due to modesty than anything else.
"It was good, just the opportunity came and Jason got a good play-the-ball so it certainly makes it easier," Morgan said.
"I've got no idea (where it comes from) to be honest, I think I've just been lucky to be in that position in those times in the game before more than anything."
"Even with the field goal… Jason got a quick play-the-ball and he played it in a good place, he didn't try to get too many metres and get closer to the try line, he was smart enough to pull it up on the 10-metre line."
Although luck undoubtedly comes into it, the match-winning play is certainly representative of how Morgan has developed in 2017.
"I knew within that moment that I had to be the one to take control, and whether it was myself, [Lachlan] Coote or Te Maire [Martin] to kick the goal I had to be a voice out there and be directing things," he said.
"It just so happened that I was the one to kick it as well, I'm sure if we had hit Coote I'm sure he would have knocked it over as well."
First published on NRL.com.