With 2017 set to be his last year on the representative scene, Maroons great Johnathan Thurston says team-mate Michael Morgan should be the man to replace him at five-eighth for Queensland and Kangaroos.
Thurston has been a mainstay in the Queensland side, playing all 36 matches since making his debut in 2005 in an incredible display of durability.
His record at state level speaks for itself, with the Maroons winning 63.89% of the time with him in the side, while he has recorded a staggering 34 wins from 37 appearances in the green and gold.
But all good things must come to an end, and the 33-year-old couldn’t have chosen a bigger year to finish with the Maroons set to play two games at Suncorp Stadium in 2017 as they aim to make it 11 series wins from the past 12 years.
Then, when his Cowboys commitments are over, Thurston will bow out of rep footy as he and the Kangaroos attempt to defend their World Cup crown on home soil.
With options galore to replace him, the four-time Dally M medallist anointed Morgan as the man he'd like to see wear the No.6 jersey from 2018 onwards.
The Cowboys five-eighth made his Origin debut in 2015 and has played five matches off the bench for the Maroons.
He has also tallied six caps for the Kangaroos, and earned a start in Australia's 14-8 win over the Kiwis during last year's Four Nations campaign.
“I've been involved with rep teams for a number of years. There's a big carrot dangling at the end of the year with the World Cup. After that it will be time to let the younger boys who are champing at the bit to take the reins," Thurston told NRL.com.
“Michael Morgan is my first choice. He's been on the bench and played the utility role for both Queensland and Australia.
“That said, we've got amazing depth in the halves both for Queensland and Australia. Michael Morgan can play six, but we've also got Anthony Milford and a few other guys who wouldn't look out of place playing for either team. We're just blessed to have so much depth.”
Thurston's decision to retire from representative football shocked the rugby league community, with the 33-year-old still regarded as the premier playmaker in the NRL.
But with a contract extension looming, Thurston said the time was right to focus solely on the Cowboys.
“I'm looking at going around in the NRL again next year, so this was the best decision to help prolong my career,” he said.
“It was probably one of the toughest decisions I've had to make. I love playing for my country and representing my state, but it has to come to an end eventually and hopefully I can go out holding those trophies when it's all said and done.”