Cowboys hopeful Morgan will face Storm
JASON Taumalolo says Cowboys five-eighth Michael Morgan is back near his best and pushing to play in Thursday's grand final rematch against Melbourne.
The Cowboys will face the Storm at AAMI Park in an NRL fixture for the first time since last year's 34-6 grand final thrashing.
Morgan, the star of North Queensland's fairytale finals run last year, is yet to feature in the premiership this season because of an abdominal strain.
The Cowboys are treading carefully with Morgan, knowing how crucial he is to their 2018 campaign, and are reluctant to play him below 100 per cent fitness.
Morgan sat out last Friday's thrilling derby loss to the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium in the hope of being cleared to travel to Melbourne on Tuesday.
And Taumalolo said the 2017 Dally M Medal runner-up showed promising signs on the training paddock on Monday.
"Morgo got through training," the Cowboys lock said.
"He is still under a bit of an injury cloud but the way he was running around today, he looked pretty good.
"Hopefully he can recover well and if the physio gives him the green light he will be playing.
"He's definitely looking a lot better than what he did the last couple of weeks.
"He is close to hitting top speed and looking good and silky as always. Hopefully he is running out with us on Thursday."
Morgan, 26, became a genuine NRL superstar last season following his purple patch of form in the back end of the season.
He starred in the absence of injured halfback Johnathan Thurston, earning a five-year contract extension worth $5 million.
Young playmaker Te Maire Martin has performed admirably at five-eighth this season, but Morgan will bring another dimension to North Queensland's attack, which was too reliant on Thurston in the Broncos defeat.
"A few boys stood up last year and Morgo was one of them," Cowboys centre Justin O'Neill said.
"To have his leadership back in the team will be great. He's a great runner of the ball and was definitely a player that steered the team around last year.
"He got through a bit of contact and most of our skills. That's the first session where he's ticked that off.
"I'm no physio but he has done all right so far."
Fullback Lachlan Coote is also pushing to return from a hamstring injury.