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Morgan can call Cowboys shots: Thurston

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    What Johnathan Thurston wants, Johnathan Thurston usually gets on the football field.

    But the dominant North Queensland co-captain says he has no problem with halves partner Michael Morgan starting to call the shots for the Cowboys in his NRL swansong season.

    Thurston played alongside halves partner Morgan for the first time since returning from an eight-month shoulder injury lay-off, sparking the Cowboys’ 16-14 NRL trial win over Melbourne at a soaked Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

    The 2017 grand final rematch was also a testimonial for Cowboys playmaker Thurston – ahead of his 17th and final NRL season – and good friend, evergreen Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith.

    Thurston said he noticed straight away how much Morgan’s on-field presence had changed since the last time they had combined.

    Morgan was forced to step up in Thurston’s absence after the co-captain broke down in June, guiding an injury-ravaged Cowboys to an unlikely grand final appearance.

    “Yeah he is obviously a lot more vocal out there, calling shots out there too,” Thurston said.

    “It’s nice to see his development over the last 12 months.

    “Now he is not afraid to call the shots, which is part of him growing.

    “He’s obviously the future of our club so I am going to enjoy the next few months with him.”

    Morgan wasn’t afraid to take charge in his first game of the year and only Thurston’s second since returning from shoulder surgery.

    He demanded the ball with the Cowboys on the attack before delivering a pinpoint cross-field kick for three-try winger Kyle Feldt to snatch one-handed and score, giving North Queensland an 8-4 halftime lead.

    Asked if he minded Morgan calling the shots, Thurston said: “Not at all.

    “We encourage our players (to back themselves).

    “If they see something, they get their hands on the ball – and he (Morgan) is not afraid to do that.”

    Cowboys coach Paul Green could not wait for Thurston and Morgan to click after showing flashes of brilliance in the Brisbane wet.

    “There were glimpses of it so hopefully it gets better as the season progresses,” Green said.

    Thurston had no complaints with his troublesome shoulder after getting “trampled” in defence on Friday night.

    “The confidence to be able to take a (shoulder) hit is now sky high – it pulled up fine,” he said.

    Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote (hamstring) is expected to be fit for Round 1 after lasting just 12 minutes against Melbourne while centre Kane Linnett (pectoral) is sweating on scans.

    © AAP 2018
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    The Crowd Says (14)

    • Roar Rookie

      February 24th 2018 @ 8:25am
      Joe said | February 24th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      Morgan played very well as did JT but I thought Kyle Feldt was the star last night. I know its early but I’d be surprised if he didn’t get picked for QLD with Morgan in the halves. He is a freak under the cross kick which is nigh impossible to defend against. Storms depth already being tested and the season hasn’t even started yet with the only silver lining that Munster as 3rd choice fullback isn’t too bad…not a good start to the title defense.

      • Roar Guru

        February 24th 2018 @ 10:46am said | February 24th 2018 @ 10:46am | ! Report

        You said 2 silly things:
        1. There is no way Feldt will replace either Holmes or Gagai.
        2. The Storm’s 4 trials so far have all been excellent and highlighted the many brilliants “kids” coming thru.
        They were without Billy Slater, Jesse Bromwich, Sam Kasiano, Suli Vunivalu, Brandon Smith last night, not to mention Cam Smith, Hughes and Addo Carr played small mins
        Fans should be excited.

        • Roar Rookie

          February 24th 2018 @ 12:52pm
          Joe said | February 24th 2018 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

          Yes, I guess I’m a glass half empty kind of person when it comes to the Storm. Two injuries in the fullback position before season starts is a downer but hopefully Slater is good for round 1 and with all those other players back they should be right. Also you’re right as with others here that Feldt will start behind Gagai and Holmes but I think without JT and Cronk they might need to look outside their usual ways of getting points and a Morgan/Feldt club combo off cross kicks looks like a way to get points. Out of those 3 wingers he is the best in the air , just a matter of his hitups and defense but from pre-season talk he is in the best condition of his life. Guess he’ll have to prove that he should be there in the opening rounds.

          • Roar Guru

            February 24th 2018 @ 4:21pm
   said | February 24th 2018 @ 4:21pm | ! Report

            Expect JT to play Origin……………
            Hopefully Billy is ok, but there is a heap of depth at fullback after Hughes incl. Munster, Drinkwater, Papa, Walters and Jacks.

            • Roar Guru

              February 24th 2018 @ 7:19pm
              Emcie said | February 24th 2018 @ 7:19pm | ! Report

              JT wont play

      • February 24th 2018 @ 11:50am
        Griffo said | February 24th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        If there is an injury in the Queensland backs then maybe Feldt gets a go, but I don’t see Queensland dropping last year’s player of the series, Dane Gagai, or the scorer of 4 tries in two matches for Queensland and the owner of a whole host of try scoring records for Australia, Valentine Holmes. There is also Darius Boyd to consider; a long time servant for the Maroons and aecond greatest try scorer in origin who I believe won’t play if everyone is fit. Je could still be pucked ahead of Feldt but I think fair to say that Feldt is in the mix of possible replacements if needed.

        • Roar Guru

          February 24th 2018 @ 11:55am
          Emcie said | February 24th 2018 @ 11:55am | ! Report

          Feldt is definately infront of Oates at least, on current form anyway

          • February 25th 2018 @ 6:34pm
            Griffo said | February 25th 2018 @ 6:34pm | ! Report

            Oh for sure

    • February 24th 2018 @ 9:30am
      the Shafe said | February 24th 2018 @ 9:30am | ! Report

      Great news for Cows to hear. Exactly what was needed. After last year, this is Morgan’s team now and JT wanting to be king in his last year could inhibit Morgan and hamper the team’s progress. JT is just awesome anyway, Cows just became bigger favourites.

    • Roar Guru

      February 24th 2018 @ 9:31am
      Nat said | February 24th 2018 @ 9:31am | ! Report

      Having someone like Morgan stepping up will be great for JT. At times in the past he could be accused of trying too hard and getting frustrated. While he may be used to leading the show up north, think of his games at State and Aust level with Locky/Cronk taking control allowing JT to watch for opportunities. That one-hander by Feldt in those conditions – crazy.

      • February 26th 2018 @ 10:27am
        Rob said | February 26th 2018 @ 10:27am | ! Report

        JT has always played better when others are leading the team around and he is able to inject himself against a tired or disjointed defensive line. His biggest problem has been trying to win games and over playing his hand in big matches for the Cowboys.

    • Roar Guru

      February 24th 2018 @ 10:50am said | February 24th 2018 @ 10:50am | ! Report

      Hi Laine,
      If anyone thinks JT is not going to call the shots they are on drugs. He only knows one way and that is to get involved 100%, he is not capable of taking a back seat. He did that with Cronk at rep level so a more mature Morgan will be no different.
      I thought, both he and Matt Scott looked as good as ever.

    • February 24th 2018 @ 2:13pm
      frnq said | February 24th 2018 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

      That was a full strength Cowboys team compared to Storms who fielded a lot of Intrust cup players. Not looking good for the cows in my opinion.

      • February 26th 2018 @ 10:43am
        Rob said | February 26th 2018 @ 10:43am | ! Report

        Trials are along way from September. My concern is how the Cowboys progress with JT coming back as chief play maker? Will we see less ball in Morgan’s hands? Already Linnett has shifted to the opposite side to help JT and now both centres are playing their none proffered sides? The pack looks good and will improve over the season barring injuries.

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