Morgan’s warning: We’re far from our best
MICHAEL Morgan has sounded an ominous warning to North Queensland's NRL rivals, declaring the Cowboys are a long way from their best and can still challenge for the premiership.
The Cowboys showed some promising signs in snapping a five-game losing streak against the Titans in last Saturday's scrappy 26-14 win in Townsville.
The 12-point victory was far from the polished excellence North Queensland has produced over the past few years, but it was a step in the right direction for coach Paul Green's men.
The Cowboys have remarkably kept together most of the squad that clinched the club's first NRL title in 2015.
In the Titans win, 13 of the 2015 premiership team were on the park, showing the continuity the Cowboys have managed to produce.
The only players missing from the 2015 team were Kane Linnett (injured), James Tamou (Penrith), Ben Hannant (retired) and Rory Kostjasyn (retired), although they lost prop John Asiata to a torn pec.
The familiarity of those players could help the Cowboys make a charge to the finals despite starting the season with a horrendous 1-5 record.
And five-eighth Morgan said the fact North Queensland had not reached its potential was a positive sign.
"We haven't really played to our potential yet," he said.
"Everyone has talked about how off and clunky we've looked. They have been right.
"We can get a bit of confidence out of playing more as a team.
"The mood and the feeling out there was a lot better than it had been."
Green was desperate to hose down talk of the finals after the Titans game, insisting North Queensland's sole focus had to be Saturday's clash against Canberra at 1300SMILES Stadium.
The Cowboys have put themselves in a terrible position, needing a minor miracle to qualify for the all-important top four.
No team has won the NRL premiership from outside the top four, but North Queensland's squad has got the job done in big games before.
They won the 2015 title, made the final four in 2016 and qualified for last year's grand final despite being ravaged by injuries.
Co-captain Matt Scott said North Queensland's experienced campaigners could play a pivotal role throughout the season.
"It's good to have that core group of players that stuck together," he said.
"We know each other's games well. We've got confidence in each other.
"That certainly does help, but if we're not doing our individual jobs then it doesn't matter who's on the park. We're not going to compete in games.
"Hopefully this was a step in the right direction. If we get a bit of confidence in doing our own job then we'll start seeing some of that special stuff."