Thurston: Morgan’s best position is still on the bench

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    Injured five-eighth Johnathan Thurston has hesitated to back teammate Michael Morgan as the man to replace him at this year’s Rugby League World Cup.

    Thurston says Morgan’s greater utility value could see him remain as a bench weapon for Mal Meninga’s Kangaroos, with James Maloney and Cameron Munster to battle it out for the No.6 jersey.

    Morgan forced a rethink on the Test five-eighth spot with his terrific club form in the halves that saw the Cowboys surge from eighth all the way to the NRL grand final.

    It lead to him being selected alongside Munster and Maloney, while Brisbane’s Ben Hunt was also rewarded for his utility value after strong late-season form at hooker when he began the year at halfback.

    Morgan has stated his desire to start in the halves after getting a taste of the role in a Four Nations Test last year.

    For Queensland in the last three Origin series Morgan has played backrow, in the halves and centres. He played a whole NRL season at fullback in 2014 when Lachlan Coote tore his anterior cruciate ligament at the Auckland Nines.

    Thurston has no doubt the 25-year-old would fit right in as part of Australia’s starting spine, but questioned whether the team would be weakened if he wasn’t available to plug a gap off the bench.

    “He’s been playing really good footy the last six to eight weeks and he’s in the front running for it,” said Thurston, who will miss the World Cup after shoulder surgery in July.

    “But that would take away the utility role (Kangaroos coach) Mal (Meninga) likes to run with on the bench as well.

    “He’s got really good value to the team in that role, but certainly if Mal gave him the number six jersey he’d do it justice.”

    Australia and England will open the World Cup in Melbourne on October 27.

    © AAP 2017