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Master on the big stage

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The master would have been proud of his apprentice.

Johnathan Thurston won't be seen in an Australian jersey again but the man who has learned so much by his side, Michael Morgan, is now playing like the future Immortal at the highest level.

Morgan has made a seamless transition into Thurston's No.6 jersey for the Kangaroos and it is his capacity to take the game by the scruff of the neck and come up with game-breaking plays which continues to astound.

With the Kangaroos trailing 2-0 against Fiji on Friday night, a Morgan line break to set up Australia's first try to Billy Slater was decisive, while his cross-field kick for a Valentine Holmes four-pointer was inch perfect.

But it was the fourth try of the first half to Dane Gagai, where Morgan moved from his left side to the right to link with Cooper Cronk, which showcased his game sense and vision.

Morgan had a major influence on the carnage that followed and it is no coincidence left winger Holmes scored a record-breaking six tries.

Morgan is the ace up the Kangaroos' sleeve in their quest to win consecutive World Cups and has become a genuine superstar of the game.

It is his humility and matter-of-fact way of getting the job done that makes him such a deadly assassin.

For onlookers there is an air inevitability about the Kangaroos successfully defending their World Cup title next weekend, no matter who their opponents, but that is not a view that will be entertained by coach Mal Meninga or the players.

Prior to this 54-6 semi-final win over Fiji the coach gave the team a public roasting for putting in their worst training session of the tournament.

It was a shot across the bow and a sign that just a hint complacency was the hidden enemy that could bring this campaign undone in the final hour.

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