Morgan ready to step into Cronk’s shoes
MICHAEL Morgan has welcomed the challenge of being the next pre-eminent playmaker for Australia and Queensland following the representative retirement of Cooper Cronk.
Cronk's departure comes in the same year veteran No.7 Johnathan Thurston announced that 2017 would also be his final outings at state and national level.
The pair's exit now leaves Morgan as next in line to lead the Kangaroos and Maroons, with both teams on the lookout for a new halves partner.
Morgan conceded he had yet to realise the ramifications of Cronk's decision to retire.
"I was pretty shocked. I knew early with JT. He said at the start of the year that it'd be his last, so that's had some time to sink in," Morgan said.
"There were still guys like Cooper and Cam there to take control and be the dominant player. I haven't thought about it a lot but it's a massive hole, that's for sure.
"Him and JT, they're pretty big losses. They've been there for a long time. They've been so good for so long as well. They've been winners while they've been there.
"It'll be a challenge, that's for sure. But they took over from the guys before them and did a great job so hopefully the next in line can do the same."
Morgan has so far started in just one of his eight State of Origin games - at centre - and only established himself as the Kangaroos' No.6 in their Rugby League World Cup triumph.
But he said his rapid ascension at North Queensland in the absence of the injured Thurston had prepared him to step up at higher levels.
"I've only started one Origin game and yes I've played a handful of them now," he said.
"But, look, I've only evolved into more of a leader this year at the Cowboys. It's something I enjoyed doing. Hopefully I can keep taking that forward."
While he admitted Thurston would return to the No.7 jumper at the Cowboys, Morgan warmed to the idea of wearing it for Queensland and Australia.
"I'd love to have a go at it and take on the challenge," he said.
"I've enjoyed doing it through the World Cup. I knew coming in that there was a big hole to fill with Johnno missing, being the player he'd been in the green- and-gold jersey for so long.
"I knew that was there, and that expectation to do a good job in his jersey, I'm glad that we finished the way we did."