QLD's Michael Morgan. Queensland vs New South Wales for game one of the 2017 Origin Series at Suncorp Stadium. Pic Peter Wallis
QLD's Michael Morgan. Queensland vs New South Wales for game one of the 2017 Origin Series at Suncorp Stadium. Pic Peter Wallis

“His timing couldn’t have been better for the position that Queensland’s in.

QUEENSLAND State of Origin coach Kevin Walters has given his strongest indication yet that he wants Michael Morgan to be his halfback in next year's Origin series.

The race is on for the Queensland No. 7 spot vacated by Cooper Cronk, who announced his retirement from representative footy in the wake of Australia's Rugby League World Cup win.

Walters has previously said five players - Morgan, Daly Cherry-Evans, Corey Norman, Ash Taylor and Ben Hunt - will battle it out for the prized jumper, starting from game one of season 2018.

"Obviously he (Morgan) is the main contender for the halfback position, he's showed that in recent weeks with his form at the Cowboys, and then into the World Cup," Walters said.

"His timing couldn't have been better for the position that Queensland's in.

"If he can maintain that form next year - I'm sure he will - and get to the standards that he sets, it will be hard to leave him out that's for sure.

"I'm very excited for Michael.

"He's been an interchange player for Queensland, and played at centre this year for us and did an outstanding job in a couple of games."

While by no means guaranteeing Morgan the prized spot, Walters said there was no reason why Morgan could not blossom into an Origin great.

"He can be as good as he wants to be," Walters said.

"He's shown how much ability he has, and now he's transforming that ability and that potential into matchwinning performances.

"That's what you want from your halves, and I'm sure everyone saw his form for the last six weeks for the Cowboys in that dominant halfback position.

"For me it's great to see, I love watching the great players do their stuff.

"I thought he did it magnificently, I hope he continues it next year.

"It will make our position for Queensland that much stronger."

While the race to be Cronk's replacement is still up in the air, Walters is far more certain on the Origin prospects of Cowboys' workhorse Gavin Cooper, who established himself as an 80-minute Origin player in game two of this year's series.

"I can't see why we would want to leave him out, if he's playing well," Walters said.

"He showed again this year his value and his importance, not only for the Cowboys but also at Origin level, and he's a great team player.

"One thing you know about Gav is that you know what you're going to get from him every week.

"He sets very high standards, and he sets high standards for his teammates as well."

Walters said a full-strength Cowboys' team would go a long way towards Queensland retaining it's Origin dominance, with the Maroons also losing Cowboys' legend Johnathan Thurston to representative retirement.

Coen Hess, Justin O'Neill and Matt Scott will also be in the Origin mix.

"The Cowboys have always had a big impact at Origin level, and I hope that continues," he said.



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