26 Sep 2015

Storm unsure of Cowboys' halves

7:02 pm on 26 September 2015

Mystery surrounds the true extent of a groin injury to North Queensland superstar Johnathan Thurston ahead of Saturday's NRL preliminary final against Melbourne.

The Cowboys Johnathan Thurston in NRL action.

The Cowboys Johnathan Thurston in NRL action. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Thurston took the injury into the Cowboys' qualifying final loss to Brisbane two weeks ago and didn't appear to be hampered by the complaint.

But in last week's semi-final thumping of Cronulla the sharpshooter put in one of his worst ever performances in kicking at goal, leading to questions over his fitness.

Fullback Lachlan Coote also took over a larger portion of the general play kicking from Thurston.

Thurston has avoided fully answering questions on his condition in the lead up to the clash with the Storm in Melbourne, but doubts remain.

However the Australian and Queensland playmaker has confirmed he will kick at goal on Saturday.

On the other side of the cowboy's ruck, Michael Morgan has been identified by the Melbourne captain Cameron Smith as the man the Storm need to get a handle on.

Of course Johnathan Thurston runs the Cowboys show but Morgan's ability has allowed the Townsville-based outfit to move within one game of a grand final.

Morgan, 23, can turn a good year in which his made his Queensland debut, into a great one if he can steer the Cowboys into next week's grand final against Brisbane.

Michael Morgan

Michael Morgan Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"He is a very impressive young footballer, when I first laid eyes on him in Origin camp when he came in as an 18th man I was impressed with his ability not to let the occasion get to him," Smith said.

"He was coming into a State of Origin camp with a lot of experienced players some of whom he probably looked up to as a young fella, but it didn't affect him.

"He is a wonderful footballer. He is young and confident and we had a bit of a joke in Origin camp that he was in year six when I made my first grade debut so shows my age.

"He is just a guy that backs himself every time he has the footy in his hand."

Morgan returned from an ankle injury in the qualifying loss to Brisbane when he struggled, but enjoyed a much-improved outing in the thumping of Cronulla last week.

"Our left side has a fair bit of work to do defensively given his speed, he is one of the fastest guys in the game," Smith said.

"His strongest attribute is his running game, as a half he doesn't tend to ball play or use the footy he just backs himself to run.

"He did that last week, he has done that on several occasions this year and broken the game wide open so our left side are ready. They have done a lot of homework on him and I'm sure they will do a good job on him."

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