Infection nearly ended Cowboys star’s career
North Queensland Cowboys star Michael Morgan has fought back from a career-threatening shoulder injury and is on track to lead a North Queensland revolution.
The Sunday Mail can reveal Morgan has overcome the infection which crushed his 2020 campaign and is ready to bounce back from the toughest season of his career.
Morgan, 29, was limited to just six NRL appearances last year after a routine shoulder operation went terribly wrong.
Morgan underwent surgery after the NRL season was suspended in March due to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.
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He was expected to miss little football after the two-month break, but his shoulder became infected and required further surgery and treatment.
The former Queensland Origin gun played four games late in the season as the Cowboys fought to avoid the wooden spoon but was below his best and missed North Queensland's final four matches of the year.
Morgan complained of soreness and a lack of strength in his shoulder which had robbed him of confidence.
After seeking multiple professional opinions, Morgan has managed to fight back from the brink and is in line to feature in North Queensland's NRL season-opener against Penrith on March 13.
"Everything is suggesting he will be all right," said Cowboys coach Todd Payten.
"He has done all of our contact and quite a bit of tackling. He has had some sore moments but he is going to be sore. He has to deal with that.
"We have modified his training in some parts heading into Christmas but for the most part he's done everything.
"Unless there is a hiccup, we are expecting him to play round one."
After playing a key role in North Queensland's 2015 premiership and starring in the fairytale run to the 2017 grand final, Morgan's past three seasons have been much like the Cowboys' plight.
The Townsville product has struggled to consistently produce his best form and endured speculation about his fractured relationship with former coach Paul Green, who was sacked in July.
But with his shoulder heading in the right direction and a new coach in Payten at the helm, Morgan will get the opportunity to make a fresh start in 2021.
Payten has taken the sole captaincy off Morgan, installing Jason Taumalolo as his co-captain, in a bid to ease the pressure on his star playmaker.
Payten said Morgan was ticking all the right boxes and the return of the 166-game NRL player would be a boost to the Cowboys in 2021.
"I'm only going off what the medical department told me all along and they were confident he could get it right and be able to play," Payten said.
"He has had a serious infection and needed to rehab that and make sure we didn't stretch him too far in his contact.
"For a lot of it we left it open to Michael and where he felt comfortable and could keep going. In other areas we've pulled him right back.
"He is training well and has taken part in all of our indoor contact sessions. He is in a good spot at the moment."
The Cowboys will return to pre-season training on Monday and play their only trial game against the Broncos on February 27.
Originally published as Infection nearly ended Cowboys star's career