North Queensland Toyota Cowboys co-captain Michael Morgan has today announced his immediate retirement from rugby league.
Morgan’s retirement comes on medical grounds after fresh complications to his troublesome right shoulder, which he re-injured in the Round 2 game against St George Illawarra.
The 29-year-old was able to finish the match, but further medical assessment uncovered new damage, which led to the decision to call time on his career.
Despite the premature end to his career, Morgan will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the greatest to pull on a Cowboys jersey in the 26-year history of the club.
A born and bred Townsville boy, Morgan’s 168 games and 58 tries in Cowboys colours both rank 10th most in club history.
His flick pass to send Kyle Feldt over to level the scores after the full-time siren in the 2015 grand final instantly ensured Morgan would forever be part of Cowboys’ folklore. Along with Johnathan Thurston’s golden point field goal, Morgan’s piece of brilliance is enshrined as one of the two moments which sealed North Queensland’s historic maiden premiership.
The Townsville Brothers junior also produced a stunning string of performances to lead the Cowboys to a fairytale grand final appearance in 2017 – a season in which he was also named Dally M Halfback of the Year.
Morgan took over captaincy of the Cowboys from club legends Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott in 2019 and was joined by fellow premiership winner Jason Taumalolo as co-captain prior to the current season.
Morgan represented Australia on 12 occasions, including the 2017 World Cup Final triumph over England as well as Queensland in 12 State of Origin matches.
“This is not the way I envisioned my career finishing, but I’m retiring knowing I gave myself every opportunity over the last 12 months for my shoulder to be strong enough to continue playing. Unfortunately, the end result was out of my control,” Morgan said.
“Even though I’m hanging up the boots at 29, I’m extremely proud of everything I achieved over the course of 12 seasons as an NRL player.
“As someone who was born and raised in Townsville, the opportunity to join the Cowboys as a 16-year-old was fulfilling a life-long dream and I’m grateful for every moment at this great club.
“Listing every person who contributed to my career would be impossible, but to all my teammates, coaches, everyone who supported me throughout my career, including Cowboys members and fans and most importantly my family – thank you.”
Cowboys CEO Jeff Reibel described Morgan an as influential leader both on and off the field.
“Michael was a North Queensland and Townsville junior, came to our club as a teenager and would go on to be named captain of our club,” he said.
“Everyone remembers what he has contributed to our club on the field, in particular helping us win our first premiership in 2015 and our grand final run in 2017, but what I have been privileged to witness is him mature as a man off the field. His leadership around our club and his care for not only his teammates, but everyone at the Cowboys has been inspiring.
“His toughness and tenacity to be able to endure what he has over the last couple of seasons should be admired – he has looked under every last rock and has gone through a lot of pain to reach the point he has today.
“Michael Morgan will be remembered as one of the greatest to ever take the field for the North Queensland Cowboys.”