Michael Morgan ready to put body on line for Cowboys
IT'S the willingness to take a hit that helped Johnathan Thurston become the best playmaker in the game.
And now he's wearing the famous Cowboys No.7, Michael Morgan has made a pact to put his body on the line for his teammates despite being knocked around by the Roosters.
Morgan's greater focus on running to the defensive line was noticeable in the 22-16 loss and it helped open space for tries to Kyle Feldt and Kane Linnett.
The Queensland Origin star is carrying a burner to his neck he suffered in a hit after he passed the ball against South Sydney in round 19.
It caused him some discomfort against the Roosters but he believes it is worth the reward.
"It's just a burning thing that if it gets knocked a certain way, it gives a burn down my arm and it takes a bit of time to settle down," Morgan said.
"I got one a few weeks ago and once you get one it just keeps on happening but it's nothing serious, I'm not worried about it."
The debate around protecting playmakers resurfaced on Sunday when Thurston called for players who illegally hit them late be sin binned.
But Morgan insists he isn't being unfairly targeted and is willing to emulate Thurston by taking hits to open up chances for his team.
"I don't think I've had an illegal hit put on me at all. In no way do I think I'm being targeted, it's just the way I'm playing," Morgan said.
"I've tried to emphasise more taking the ball to the line to give our outside guys more of a chance.
"We saw on the weekend when Feldty scored I got hit as I passed it then, but it gives the outside guys room if I can do that.
"It's just part of playing in that position and I have to cop it I suppose.
"I understand more now why he (Thurston) got taken out a lot but I don't think it's from being targeted, I just tried to emphasise stopping in the line a bit more."
It will be a "master versus apprentice" battle when Morgan battles Melbourne Storm halfback Cooper Cronk in Friday's blockbuster in Townsville.
Morgan has publicly thanked Cronk for helping him tweak a few areas of his game when they were together in representative camps after a slow start to the year.
He has since been in strong form after adjusting to life without Thurston, but hopes he can use the lessons learned against his opposite number this week.
"He might know what I'm going to do now," Morgan quipped.
"He was great for me earlier in the year and that's the type of person he is, he was more than happy to do that.
"I was very grateful for what he did but on Friday night it will be a bit different, we'll be the ones trying to stop him."