MICHAEL MORGAN - 29th September 2013 - Queensland Rugby League (QRL) INTRUST SUPER CUP Grand Final played between the Easts Tigers v Mackay Cutters played at Ipswich Reserve. Mackay Cutters ran out winners 27-20. This image is for Editorial Use Only. Any further use or individual sale of the image must be cleared by application to the Manager Sports Media Publishing (SMP Images). PHOTO : CHARLES KNIGHT SMP IMAGES

Morgan continues rapid rise to the top

The star of North Queensland's Michael Morgan continued its swift rise yesterday afternoon, named as a utility for the highly-anticipated May 6 Test Match against New Zealand.

At just 24 years old, Morgan is already the epitome of a professional.

He has overcome the closest of personal tragedies, been forced into reshaping his game for the alien position of fullback and has come out the other side a State of Origin player and premiership winner. And now, he has reached the summit.

Cowboys coach Paul Green spoke proudly of his star pupil on Tuesday afternoon, saying he thoroughly deserved national honours.

“I'm really rapt for him, couldn't be prouder,” Green said.

“It's a reward for some hard work that he's done especially over the last few years, so I'm really happy for him and really proud of what he's achieved.

“He certainly brings versatility, he's in good form with the ball and he's playing with plenty of confidence at the moment.

“He's a bigger body and he can play just about every position on the field. You know he's going to bring something to their team. He's a handful in attack and I think he brings plenty of versatility."

In 2013 Morgan exiled himself from the NRL and was ready to give up the game, declaring that he was "mentally broken" following the death of best mate Alex Elisala.

Morgan spent the bulk of that year in the Intrust Super Cup, where he helped the Mackay Cutters win a premiership, and returned to the top-grade scene in 2014 when he was handed the challenge of playing fullback following Lachlan Coote's season-ending injury suffered in the Auckland Nines.

Starring in his new role, Morgan immediately received an invite for the Queensland Origin camp. He was named the 19th man for Game Three, but it wasn't until he became a member of the Maroons' 17 in 2015 that the right people started taking notice.

Morgan's conduct and team-first attitude sold him to the Maroons brass; and along with his on-field exploits, Morgan's maturity has played a factor in Tuesday's selection for Australia.

“He's come a long way, ‘Morgs’,” Green said.

“When I first arrived here he'd had a pretty tough year the year before. He was probably questioning his passion for the game given the year he'd had for different reasons.

“In that first year I asked him to take on a new challenge and play fullback and he was fantastic in the way he attacked it. I think in hindsight it's certainly improved his game and given him another perspective on the game and I'm really proud of seeing where he's at in his career."

Morgan will face one more small hurdle before running on for his country: focusing on this Saturday's game against Manly at Brookvale Oval.

“For the guys that have [played in a Test Match] before I think they will be fine,” Green said.

“But it will be a challenge for ‘Morgo’ this week to make sure he keeps his focus on what he needs to do for us on the weekend.”

*This first appeared on nrl.com.au