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Morgan can step up for JT: Cooper

NZN 27/07/2016 Laine Clark

State of Origin duty has primed Michael Morgan to step up in Johnathan Thurston's absence, North Queensland back-rower Gavin Cooper says.

But Cooper would not be surprised if playmaker Thurston ran out for the Cowboys in Saturday night's NRL top-three clash with Melbourne in Townsville.

North Queensland coach Paul Green has not ruled out the possibility of Thurston playing despite reports the co-captain will be sidelined for two weeks with a hamstring complaint.

"I wouldn't be surprised at all (if Thurston played)," Cooper said.

"That's him - anything's possible."

But Cooper said Morgan was ready to take over the team reins after emerging as a leader from Origin duty for Queensland.

Morgan has cemented a key Maroons bench utility role since his Origin debut last year.

"Morgo has really grown as a player the last two years," Cooper said.

"His game sense now is second to none.

"That's something we will really look to (in Thurston's absence)."

Cooper admitted there would be pressure on Morgan to fill Thurston's shoes.

"Leading us around will be a little weight on his shoulders but nothing he can't handle," he said.

"Footy comes naturally to him.

"It will be a good opportunity for him if we do go without JT, but I hope we don't."

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