Morgan ready to step up and make history for Maroons

No North Queensland player has ever captained the Maroons but Cowboys captain Michael Morgan said he would be "proud and stoked" if the honour was bestowed upon him in this year's State of Origin series.

With Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans racing the clock to be fit for the Holden State of Origin series opener on June 5, and Dragons half Ben Hunt in the frame to play hooker, Morgan has a golden opportunity to stake his claim for what would be a personal first on two fronts.

Morgan has played nine times for Queensland but has never lined up in the halves, despite playing five-eighth for Australia in the Kangaroos' successful 2017 World Cup campaign.

Maroons coach Kevin Walters has said the decision on the Maroons next captain is crucial to get right and Cowboys captain Morgan, speaking ahead of Sunday's clash with South Sydney, has left him in no doubt that he is ready to step up.

"If Kevvie and the selectors gave me the opportunity to do it I would obviously be super proud, as a kid who grew up in Queensland and supported them," Morgan said.

"I have been fortunate enough to play in that team under a few really good leaders. Coming into this season it wasn't something I was thinking about at all, and I still haven't too much. I know it has been spoken about. In-house among family and friends I don't talk about it but if they came to me and said they wanted me to do that I would be stoked to."

Match: Maroons v Blues

Game 1 -

Full Time
Maroons

Home Team

Maroons

Scored 18 points
Blues

Away Team

Blues

Scored 14 points

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Match broadcasters:

  • Nine Network

Morgan has made it clear he will play anywhere Walters wants him to in the Maroons side, but it is the number seven jersey that he wants to wear. He has played in the halves six times for Australia and never lost a game, a record that gives him confidence that he can do the job for Queensland.

"I really enjoyed it when I played in the halves for Australia through the World Cup, and they are all big games. That does give me confidence knowing that I have played in a winning World Cup side," he said.

"I haven't done it for Queensland and I'd love the opportunity to. If we can play good footy [at the Cowboys] then those selection headaches will take care of themselves.

"I started the team hopeful of just getting back into the team after I missed the last two [Origin] games last year through injury.

"It wasn't an ideal campaign for me. I was going to play the first game off the bench and started at fullback. Other than that I have started another game in the centres. I am not too sure what my position will be if I am there."

Morgan and the Cowboys are yet to hit their straps this year and his role has been modified due to injury to Te Maire Martin and the presence of ball-playing forward John Asiata beside him at five-eighth.

Morgan's focus will be on game management and control against Souths as a result.

"It is a bit different and it will take a bit of getting used to after I did most of the pre-season with Te Maire [Martin] there and Ben Barba at fullback," Morgan said.

"It has all changed. Johnny is a very skilful player and is not used to playing in the halves. So in terms of directing the team around and making good decisions on the last play it means a more controlled approach from me I think, and just let him get the ball and [seize] his own opportunities, like we saw last week when he scored after he put in a good kick for Ben Hampton and backed up on the inside."

Morgan acknowledged the Cowboys would have their hands full up against Rabbitohs halves Cody Walker and Adam Reynolds, who in tandem have been in devastating form for Souths.

"They are playing with a lot of confidence and when you watch them play they are more than happy to try something off the cuff and it is coming off for them in a team that is prepared to throw the footy around," he said.

"Their combination is working really well and they will keep us on our toes."