Gavin Coper (centre) and Michael Morgan (right) chat with boxer Jeff Horn at Maroons training.
Gavin Coper (centre) and Michael Morgan (right) chat with boxer Jeff Horn at Maroons training. DAVE HUNT

Morgan backs Cowboys teammate to handle pressure

MAROONS utility Michael Morgan has backed Cowboys teammate Coen Hess to handle the heat of his Origin debut, saying he is excited to see what the 20-year-old can do.

Queensland coach Kevin Walters confirmed his line-up yesterday, with Hess to be injected from the bench in a role Morgan believes will suit the backrower.

Debate has raged for the past month about whether the Bundaberg wrecking ball should be handed a maroon jersey given he has played just over 20 NRL games.

But Queensland's insipid showing in the series opener forced the selectors' hands.

Morgan said the young gun's relaxed attitude would help him cope with the hype, as would starting on the bench.

"For his first game it's probably easier starting on the bench, you're not in that initial opening of the game," he said.

"You can watch and see how the game's flowing, you talk to the guys when they come off about how they felt out there and what was working or what needs to be better and you go out there with that in your head."

Hess has been a handful for opposition defences on the edge this season, scoring 10 tries in 13 games and Morgan said his selection was good reward for his efforts.

"He's had 20-something games and to be in this side already means he is doing something right," Morgan said.

"It is exciting, as his Cowboys teammate I'm excited for him, I'm very happy for him.

"It's a great moment for himself and ... I am excited to see what he can do."

Morgan, too, is likely to be key for Queensland and said he was finally comfortable in the utility role, with last season's Four Nations tournament a key moment in his development.

"Having the Four Nations last year and doing that role in all the games I played - all bar one - I think it really helped me a lot," Morgan said.

"Playing that role more consistently made me clearer with it and it is a similar role to what I have in this side.

"In Game One, I was reasonably happy with how I went, so if I can do that again, plus a bit more, I would be very happy."

Morgan played 51 minutes in Game One, the most he has for Queensland.

But he knows he can only do his job, even if things are not going to plan.

"It's never easy but you know the guys that are out there are doing their best," he said of watching on from the bench as things were going pear-shaped in Game One.

"When I'm not on there it's out of my control so I just try and think about my job for when I am going out there.

"I didn't want to go out there and try and over-play my hand and win the game on my own, it's more just thinking about going out and doing my job still. That's all I can do."

And while Johnathan Thurston has returned to the side, he does not expect his role to change.

"If anything it will help me a little bit with my combination with JT (Thurston) and obviously Coops (Cowboys teammate Gavin Cooper) there on the left edge as well," he said.

"It won't change anything for me."

News Corp Australia

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