Cowboys skipper Michael Morgan expects a return to his best form in 2020 after club legend Johnathan Thurston urged him to lead the side back into the finals.
The man who delivered the Cowboys their maiden premiership in 2015 said it was up to the halfback - not big-name recruit Valentine Holmes - to inspire the Townsville-based side.
"I don't want to put too much pressure on him but Morgo's the man that needs to step up and lead the club in the right direction," Thurston told Channel Nine.
"If Morgo can have a really big year and replicate what he did in 2017, that will be huge for the club."
Morgan said on Wednesday that he was blocking out external messages and focusing on bringing his strong pre-season work into the season proper.
"I'm really happy with where I am at," the 28-year-old said.
"I know there is external expectation on me, I'm not silly, I've been around long enough to know that.
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"I certainly want to get back to my best."
Morgan will have his first run for 2020 against the Storm on Saturday after sitting out the NRL Nines and the trial against the Broncos.
He will partner Jake Clifford in the halves after five-eighth contender Scott Drinkwater was rested with a minor pectoral strain.
That should give Clifford the upper hand in the battle for selection in the blockbuster season-opener against the Broncos at the new Queensland Country Bank Stadium.
However, Morgan said he wasn't sure who coach Paul Green preferred in the No.6 jersey.
"At the moment I honestly don't know," he said. "The three of us have been chopping and changing (in training).
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"Whoever gets the nod in the first week - that doesn't mean the other player has missed out for the season.
"I have no doubt both of those guys will play a big role for us this year.
"Whether its round one, round two or round 15 they are both going to be there.
"They are both very different players. Drinky looks for space and figures out a way to get the ball there; whether it is run, pass, kick, he'll have a go at anything.
"Cliffo is a little bit more structured. They both have very good running games. Cliffo has a really good kicking game.
"I'm happy for Greeny to have that decision."