AAP Rugby

Michael Morgan’s NRL return hinges on baby

By AAP Newswire

Skipper Michael Morgan is fit to return for North Queensland but is no certainty to play against Gold Coast on Sunday with his wife due to give birth.

Morgan has been named at halfback after missing the past 10 games following shoulder surgery during the COVID-19 enforced break.

But interim coach Josh Hannay said while they hoped the star playmaker lined up in the match on the Gold Coast at Cbus Super Stadium, it was out of his control.

His wife Brianna is due with their first baby, a girl.

Hannay said that Jake Clifford was on stand-by should Morgan not be able to travel.

"I'm pretty good as a coach, but I can't control when she does give birth to the little one, as much as I'd like to be able to," Hannay said on Tuesday.

"Jake Clifford's in the squad and he'll just come straight in there."

The Cowboys have missed Morgan's experience and game management; crucial in their two-point loss to Canberra last round.

Too often they opted to kick ineffectively midway through the tackle count.

"He will give us a lot there," Hannay said.

"Our young guys have been doing their best and I've been really happy with them for the most part, but it's going to be great to have Michael back out there.

"That calming influence that he has and that experience that he has to know the right play at the right time."

Morgan will partner Ben Hampton in the halves, with Hannay a fan of the utility back.

"I thought Ben really came to the contest and his kicking game was astute and he brought other people into the game and I love his competitive nature," Hannay said.

The Cowboys will also welcome back centre Tom Opacic and suspended forward Josh McGuire.

Meanwhile, Hannay said he hadn't seen comments by Warriors interim coach Todd Payten saying he wanted the Cowboys coaching job but made it clear he was up for a fight to hold on to the role permanently.

"My intention over the next 10 weeks is to make the decision a really easy one for the club," Hannay said.

"They are going to have to go through a process but I see myself in a position where I can make the final call a really easy one for them."