No finals is a failure for Cowboys: Morgan

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    Michael Morgan has spoken passionately about North Queensland’s desire to rise above their horror injury toll and make an unlikely finals run, saying the season would be ‘a failure’ if they weren’t there in September.

    Saturday night’s 26-16 loss to Cronulla in Townsville was the Cowboys’ fourth in a row and arm complaints to rising star Kalyn Ponga and ball-playing forward John Asiata made a bad night worse for the 2015 premiers.

    They join an ever-growing list of unavailable Cowboys talent, headlined by co-captains Matt Scott and Johnathan Thurston. The wretched run has seen North Queensland quickly slip from top-four contenders to battling to keep their finals hopes alive.

    Friday’s against Wests Tigers in Sydney now shapes as a must-win and despite their casualty ward Morgan said anything less than a finals appearance would be unacceptable for the Cowboys.

    “Two weeks makes a big difference in footy, a couple of weeks ago we were looking to get a spot in the top four and now we need to win to stay in the eight,” he said.

    “We don’t want to be a team that gives up, rolls over and says ‘oh we tried hard so it’s OK’, we want to be in every game and do our best not to let each other or our supporters down.

    “We see this season as a failure if we don’t get there.”

    Fullback Lachlan Coote was a late scratching on Saturday, joined on the sidelines by influential back-rower Gavin Cooper, veteran winger Antonio Winterstein and centre Justin O’Neill.

    In some much-needed good news Cowboys coach Paul Green seemed confident of getting at least a few of them back in time for the Tigers.

    Regardless of who pulls on the jersey Morgan said his team’s expectations won’t change.

    “We will all learn from being in this position we’re in and this season but we don’t want to roll over and give up,” he said.

    “We’re going to keep trying hard and we want to make a good run into the finals, it’s how we felt at the start of the year and it hasn’t changed now.

    “When you have some guys out injured, you’re under the pump and you’re not expected to win, they’re the wins that really mean a lot to the playing group.

    “I’m really proud of the way we are competing as a team and the resilience we’ve shown this year but we still see it as a failure if we aren’t in the finals.”

    © AAP 2017

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