Morgan captaincy to launch fresh new Cowboys era
Michael Morgan is set to usher in a new chapter for the Cowboys with the $5 million man tipped to win the captaincy on Friday in the post-Johnathan Thurston era.
The Courier-Mail understands Cowboys coach Paul Green has settled on his new skipper in Morgan, who is expected to ascend to the leadership throne at the club's gala season launch on Friday night in Townsville.
For the past eight years, Thurston and prop Matt Scott forged a brilliant alliance as co-captains, leading the Cowboys to the historic 2015 premiership win which snapped the club's 20-year title hoodoo.
Now Morgan is the front-runner to preside over another dominant era after Green scrapped his co-captaincy model over summer with a view to placing total faith in one full-time skipper.
It shapes as a huge burden for Morgan, but one the 27-year-old seems capable of embracing after he stepped up in the absence of the injured Thurston to steer the Cowboys to the 2017 grand final.
Cowboys champion Thurston told The Courier-Mail on Wednesday that Morgan was ready for the captaincy and teammate Jason Taumalolo believes the Origin and Test star will relish the top job.
"'Morgo' is the right guy for the captaincy," said Taumalolo, who had expressed his interest in the role.
"There are a number of guys here who would be suited for the job but Morgo is right up there with our best players.
"He is a Townsville boy born and bred ... I can't think of anyone better for the captaincy than Morgo."
Green met with the leadership group on Wednesday to finalise his decision. He is also weighing up the captaincy credentials of prop Jordan McLean and back-rower Gavin Cooper, but Morgan - who attended Cowboys games as a kid and debuted for the club as an 18-year-old - looms as the perfect fit.
Now 27, Morgan signed a mega five-year extension with the Cowboys last season, giving the Cowboys the stability of a long-term leader.
Shy and reserved in his formative NRL years, Morgan has blossomed into a quietly confident leader who was not daunted by the loss of halves partner Thurston in 2017 when the Cowboys were crying out for an on-field general.
Entering his 10th season of first-grade this year, Morgan has played 139 first-grade games and will wear the Cowboys No.7 jumper made famous by Thurston. The attacking dynamo is itching to hit back this season after a nightmare 2018 campaign marred by an abdominal strain and a season-ending bicep tear.
North Queensland front-row warhorse Scott vowed to support his new captain.
"I will do whatever I can do to help the leaders of our club develop our skills and help them along the way," Scott said following his return from a neck injury in a trial two weeks ago.
"Morgo has matured a lot the last two years.
"I think 2017 was a blessing in disguise for him. He got forced into that leadership role without 'JT'.
"Coops was the captain but Morgo really called the shots on the field.
"While he was injured a lot last year, he still had that leadership role around the club. He is pretty mature and calm and he has the respect of the group, so if he gets the captaincy, he would be able to handle it."