Johnathan Thurston’s former halves partner Michael Morgan has been entrusted with filling the big shoes left behind by Cowboys No.1 Matt Bowen.
Being asked to become Johnathan Thurston’s right-hand man at North Queensland had been daunting enough.
But Michael Morgan faces arguably an even tougher task after new Cowboys coach Paul Green named him at fullback for Saturday night’s NRL season opening home clash with Canberra.
Morgan was once considered the man to finally provide assistance to Thurston in the halves.
But after Robert Lui became the latest to get the No.7 nod following numerous combinations, Morgan has now been entrusted with trying to fill the big shoes left behind at fullback.
Lachlan Coote had been poached from Penrith to become Cowboys No.1 after North Queensland’s favourite son Matt Bowen left for England.
Now Morgan gets the chance to run out at fullback for the first time in the NRL since the Cowboys’ games record holder Bowen’s emotional farewell, after Coote (knee) sadly went down at the Auckland Nines.
It’s the latest box Morgan has ticked after being used as a back-up hooker from the bench and briefly in the centres following his frustrating halves stint alongside Thurston.
Green appeared to keep his fullback options open by also naming youngster Zac Santo on an extended bench but confirmed on Tuesday Morgan would get first crack at No.1.
“I think Michael has a bit more experience than Zac Santo,” he said.
“He (Santo) he had a good pre-season and performed well in the trials so he showed he is up to it at some stage.
“But Michael is probably a safer option … there’s competition for all spots and fullback is no different.”
Ray Thompson has been named hooker with Rory Kostjasyn to provide the dummy-half back-up off the bench.
Kostjasyn held out Cameron King and Anthony Mitchell for the utility bench spot.
“Ray (Thompson) finished the season well. He adds another attacking point, he deserves first chance,” Green said.
“Rory is better known as a defensive player but I think in the Nines he showed he has got some attacking flair.
“He can cover a number of positions, he gives us that utility value.”
Green has opted for Jason Taumalolo in his starting back-row after impressive trial form.
“We challenged him on how hard I wanted him to work and he certainly answered that,” he said.
“He’s still young, really this is Jason’s first year out of under 20s.
“People forget that seeing that he has been playing NRL the past two seasons.”