Part 1: 2019 squad analysis - Fullback
Part 2: 2019 squad analysis - Outside backs
Part 3: 2019 squad analysis - Hooker
Part 4: 2019 squad analysis - Edge forwards
Part 5: 2019 squad analysis - Middle forwards
Each week Cowboys.com.au will provide an in-depth positional analysis of the 2019 North Queensland Toyota Cowboys squad.
The series continues this week with the halves and Michael Morgan who is preparing to take the reins after the retirement of club legend Johnathan Thurston.
The players are ranked by their NRL experience with their career number of games in brackets next to their name.
The 2017 Dally M Halfback of the Year officially takes over as the Cowboys lead playmaker next season after the retirement of club legend Johnathan Thurston. Morgan is already regarded as one of the top halves in rugby league, but now in his tenth season in the NRL, the 26-year-old will finally be the senior playmaker at the Cowboys. The Maroons and Kangaroos star has returned to pre-season training after undergoing bicep and groin surgery and is expected to be fully fit and firing well in advance of the Round 1 clash with the Dragons.
In an effort to increase Martin's involvement, Cowboys head coach Paul Green moved reigning Dally M Halfback of the Year Michael Morgan to fullback mid-way through the 2018 season, opening up a halves spot for the 23-year-old Kiwi. Martin repaid Green's faith with a string of brilliant performances, which continued upon moving to fullback in Round 18. With Morgan likely to man one halves spot, Martin and Clifford will duke it out over the off season to partner him in Round 1.
Coming off a 2018 season which included a man of the match performance for the Queensland under-20s against NSW, captaining the Junior Kangaroos to victory over the Junior Kiwis, an NRL debut as well as Queensland Cup and Cowboys Rookie of the Year gongs, Clifford is widely regarded as one of the brightest prospects in rugby league. The 20-year-old is also a sharpshooter with the boot, which could help him fight his way into the side following the departure of long-time goal kicker Thurston.