NRL Rd 3 - Cowboys v Titans
NRL Rd 3 - Cowboys v Titans

Cowboys coy on Morgo’s future with club

THE Cowboys refuse to give up hope on Michael Morgan pulling on the club's jersey again this season as a former NRL star warns the mental challenge of chronic injuries is worse than any physical adversity.

It was revealed by News Corp over the weekend that private fears were held for the Cowboys captain's future in the game.

It is understood Morgan has told Cowboys doctors he isn't sure if his damaged shoulder is "healthy" enough to ensure the Queensland Origin star can see out his contract at the club, which expires at the end of 2023.

Morgan has been plagued by the chronic shoulder problem, which ruled him out of yesterday's home clash with the Dragons, for more than 12 months.

North Queensland Cowboys against St George Illawarra at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. Cowboys Francis Molo, Michael Morgan, Esan Marsters and Kyle Feldt after Dragons cross for a try. Picture: Evan Morgan
North Queensland Cowboys against St George Illawarra at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. Cowboys Francis Molo, Michael Morgan, Esan Marsters and Kyle Feldt after Dragons cross for a try. Picture: Evan Morgan

He underwent a shoulder clean-out in the COVID-19 break last season, with the joint becoming infected after the operation and forcing the 29-year-old back under the knife later in the year.

It is understood the decision the Cowboys skipper is facing has taken a mental toll, though the club will not speculate about his playing future.

Former Kangaroos front rower Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, who lives with his family in Townsville, has faced the same situation.

Learoyd-Lahrs was forced to medically retire from the game in 2015 after essentially playing half of his career on one leg due to chronic knee issues.

But the 35-year-old said the most painful battle he faced was the one inside his head.

"The biggest hurdle to overcome is the fact your brain and your desire to still play football is still there, you still want to play and you still want to compete," he said. "But trying to get a gauge of how you are going to be able to do that and play your best with the injuries, that is the frustrating part.

Tom Learoyd-Lahrs in action in 2015. Picture: Colleen Petch.
Tom Learoyd-Lahrs in action in 2015. Picture: Colleen Petch.

"Your understanding of the game improves as you get older in your footy life but your body is on a different course. What I wanted to do and what my body could do were two different things.

"Everyone wants to give themselves as much opportunity to stay there as long as you can. It is a great career and you map out as a young fella just how far you want to go. You know how much blood, sweat and tears goes into making it and then to stay there. No one ever wants to concede it's over.

"I knew in myself deep down how I was performing and what I was putting out on the field was not good enough. It is hard to admit that and hard to accept that. I came to the realisation, it didn't matter how hard I tried, my circumstances weren't going to change.

"Walking away from that lifestyle, walking away from the team environment (that was the hardest part). Then there was the fear of what comes next, how do I find fulfilment? How do I replicate what rugby league had given me? It is impossible but over time it gets easier."

Tom Learoyd-Lahrs runs into the defence during Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks NRL trial game at Seiffert Oval in Queanbeyan, NSW.
Tom Learoyd-Lahrs runs into the defence during Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks NRL trial game at Seiffert Oval in Queanbeyan, NSW.

Learoyd-Lahrs said it is still a battle he faces today, reasoning with how his career did not end on his terms but also being proud of what he managed to achieve.

But with four young kids, a loving wife and a huge support network behind him, he said it had become easier.

Cowboys head of football Michael Luck said the organisation would not speculate about the playing future of a club legend, who has played 168 NRL games, 12 Origins for the Maroons and helped take North Queensland to the premiership in 2015.

"We are a better team with Michael Morgan playing for us, and we are hopeful of getting him back on the field sooner rather than later," Luck said.

North Queensland Cowboys against St George Illawarra at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. Cowboys Michael Morgan. Picture: Evan Morgan
North Queensland Cowboys against St George Illawarra at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. Cowboys Michael Morgan. Picture: Evan Morgan

"Right now he is recovering from the soreness that was sustained last week in the loss to the Dragons. He has worked with the medical team this weekend, and at training (on Saturday) he was a part of it, kicking field goals and putting up bombs for the guys at the back.

"We will have medical recovery (on Monday) and he will be assessed further then. He deserves every chance to get back on the field, and we will give him that chance."

Originally published as Cowboys coy on Morgo's future with club

North Queensland Cowboys against St George Illawarra at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. Cowboys Michael Morgan after the game. Picture: Evan Morgan
North Queensland Cowboys against St George Illawarra at Queensland Country Bank Stadium. Cowboys Michael Morgan after the game. Picture: Evan Morgan


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