‘I would assume Morgan is captain’
North Queensland great and future Immortal and Johnathan Thurston has endorsed Michael Morgan as the man to lead the Cowboys back to the NRL finals.
Coach Paul Green will reveal who will lead the Cowboys into the post-Thurston era at North Queensland's season launch on Friday, with the club expected to scrap their former co-captain alliance of Thurston and Matt Scott in favour of a single, full-time skipper.
Yesterday Morgan received the highest endorsement from Thurston, who described him as the "future of the club".
"I would assume Morgan is captain," Thurston said.
"He's certainly the future of the club. Morgo (Morgan) is one to lead by his actions.
"I expect big things from Morgo. We saw what he did in 2017. Any formation that the coaching staff give him, he processes that really well as a halfback and he's able to execute that during the game."
Thurston said Morgan's calm demeanour made him best man for the job.
"He doesn't really get flustered out on the field which is good," he said.
"I'm a very emotional type of person, so you could always tell how I was feeling (on the field) due to my emotional being.
"Morgo is nowhere near as emotional. He's cool, calm and collected no matter what's on the scoreboard."
Thurston's view was backed up by fellow Maroons great Darren Lockyer, who said the Cowboys could put last season's horror show behind them and return to the NRL finals in 2019 with Morgan at the helm.
While the Broncos have largely struggled to replace Lockyer following his retirement eight years ago, Brisbane's most recent premiership five-eighth said Morgan could prevent similar hurdles in Townsville as the Cowboys tried to overcome Thurston's departure.
"I have the Cowboys just outside the top four, but I think Michael Morgan is a special player,'' Lockyer said.
"He's not JT but we got an insight into where he can take the team himself (from the grand final campaign in) 2017.
"He's a big addition to their squad as is Josh McGuire and Jordan Kahu.
"A team that has a disappointing year typically works extremely hard and have a great year. Combine that with Michael Morgan and I think the Cowboys are playing finals again.''
Thurston played more than 22 games in six of his last seven seasons - 2017 being the exception - and it makes their first season without the champion playmaker all the more intriguing.
"You don't (try to replace him). It's fraught with danger if you try - we have to evolve as a club and a team,'' Cowboys coach Paul Green said.
"The guys who step into positions he fulfilled, it's important they not try to emulate JT.
"It's taken a bit of work for us to get used to not having Johnathan around. He's full of energy and enthusiasm, so to take him out of the group it's different. But we had a taste of it in 2017 when we lost JT and also Matt Scott that year.''