Four Nations: Morgan to start for Australia against Kiwis in Coventry


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    Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has confirmed Michael Morgan will start at five-eighth against New Zealand at Coventry in the Four Nations.

    The North Queensland playmaker will line up in the halves alongside Cowboys teammate Johnathan Thurston with James Maloney impressing Meninga enough against Scotland to be named on the bench following an impressive debut last week.

    “We’ll start Michael Morgan just to get him into the game, he hasn’t had much game time from the bench,” said Meninga.

    “Jimmy being the five-eighth he had a terrific game last week and we”ll get him into the game as soon as we can.”

    Meninga confirmed Matt Moylan, who was named on an extended six-man bench, will drop off with Jake Friend also likely to miss out.

    However, the former Queensland coach hinted the Penrith star, who had a magnificent debut against the Scots, could feature against England next week in London.

    “It’s not likely he’ll play this weekend, but I’d like to see him at 14, that is probably his best position but we’ll see how that plays out in the future.,” Meninga said.

    “We’ll get through this game and make some judgement calls for the England game.”

    Josh Mansour’s serious tour-ending knee injury has cast a shadow over preparations for the game at the Ricoh Arena and Meninga confirmed plans are underway to fly over his wife to join him next week.

    “Medically he needs to stay over here to let the swelling go down,” he said.

    “It’s still early stages and we’ll see what the club (Penrith) say, but at the moment we have great staff here looking after him.

    “We’d like him to stay longer, but because of the injury we may not be able to, but we may see if we can get his wife over to join him for a few days.”

    Team: Darius Boyd, Valentine Holmes, Greg Inglis, Justin O’Neill, Blake Ferguson, Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith (capt), Aaron Woods, Boyd Cordner, Matt Gillett, Trent Merrin. Interchange: David Klemmer, Shannon Boyd, Sam Thaiday, James Maloney.

    © AAP 2018
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    The Crowd Says (8)

    • Roar Guru

      November 5th 2016 @ 10:48am said | November 5th 2016 @ 10:48am | ! Report

      Coach Meninga has “dropped” Jonathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk so far on tour, something few coaches would dream of doing. He would say they were “rested” but JT and Cooper know they were dropped and the coach should take credit for at least starting to implement a succession plan for when the two great Maroon half’s retire.

      Cronk and Thurston are the two best “game managers” in world rugby league, and my problem with Meninga’s gutsy call is that he has not produced a viable long term alternative for someone to run the team into the future.

      Morgan and Maloney are not the answer; they are both fine players who will do the job alongside either Cronk or JT while they are still there, but they are a massive drop down on game management skills and should not be our long term strategy.

      • November 5th 2016 @ 11:14am
        Simoc said | November 5th 2016 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        Wrong. Johnson and Smith are ahead of Cronk . There is zero need for a succession plan.

        • Roar Guru

          November 5th 2016 @ 7:39pm
 said | November 5th 2016 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

          Johnson was outstanding with his 5th tackle options last week v England but that was a one off as he has a poor tactical kicking game normally and his major strength is his running. To say his is a better organiser than Cronk is simply wrong, but this is the Roar and you are entitled. As for Smith he is a hooker.

      • November 5th 2016 @ 4:00pm
        Alex L said | November 5th 2016 @ 4:00pm | ! Report

        Thurston isn’t a particularly good game manager either all things considered; Maloney is arguably as good or better.

        There’s a definite talent drought in the next generation though and the Kangaroos may need to ride out a few lean years until some of the younger halves develop…

        • Roar Guru

          November 5th 2016 @ 7:41pm
 said | November 5th 2016 @ 7:41pm | ! Report

          Fast forward 12 months to the WC and the Kiwis will have 3 options next to Johnson. Shame none are playing this w/end.

    • November 5th 2016 @ 2:49pm
      Les Boyd's Elbow said | November 5th 2016 @ 2:49pm | ! Report

      Interesting tactics, a method to his madness? We shall see. More of barbecue in the halves is a good thing though. He’s in a rich vein of form atm.

    • November 5th 2016 @ 3:05pm
      Les Boyd's Elbow said | November 5th 2016 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

      Should be a tight match, not much in it. With Woods the wizard playing, I should imagine he will conjure a few decent runs, to go with some soft ones and a handful of errors. It would be good to see if he can cast some kind of stamina enhancing spell, or perhaps summon a ward to deflect some of the devastating carries Taumalolo will make. Hopefully the human pig Boyd and Klemmer get good minutes. Piggsy needs some quality ball close to the line and he will cross for some meat. No doubt. Crash ball to piggsy whenever the opportunity arises I would attest. Barbecue should steer the team well, he is some field marshal, but Morgan’s form has been less than 2015 so hopefully he repays the faith Mal has shown him. By the gods let’s pray that Mal did not read David Lord’s article during the week and bring Barbecue on at “inside centre” to add some playmaking spark from the bench. No twinkboy Mooooylan! which is a plus. I have heard from some corners assert he is silky but the rugby league pitch is no place for a man with silky hands. Wrong career path, should work in a massage parlor in Bali me reckons. Put those hands to good use.

      • Roar Guru

        November 6th 2016 @ 4:09pm
        Magnus M. Østergaard said | November 6th 2016 @ 4:09pm | ! Report

        I would say Thurston is silky but he just doesnt look as pretty and 10 years of being one of the more ironed out halves in the game does that to ya.

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