The race for North Queensland’s No.
1 jersey has been won by Michael Morgan.
And Robert Lui has snapped up the five-eighth spot – not that you could tell from the official team list.
Incumbent Morgan has relegated ex-Penrith No.1 Lachlan Coote to the second-tier Queensland Cup after emerging triumphant in an intriguing pre-season duel for fullback.
Morgan had been tipped to slot into the halves with co-captain Johnathan Thurston despite a sensational 2014 at fullback that ended with a Kangaroos Four Nations train-on squad nod.
But Morgan will remain at fullback for Saturday night’s NRL season opener against Sydney Roosters in Townsville with Lui at pivot – but not according to the team list.
Eyebrows were raised when Thurston was named at five-eighth and Lui at halfback for the round one clash.
But Cowboys coach Paul Green has reportedly since called it a “typo”, reassuring fans that Thurston will remain at halfback.
He said Lui’s combination with Thurston in the halves during the pre-season sealed his start.
“Robbie worked hard over the pre-season and his trial form has been pretty good too,” Green said.
“I picked the team on form.”
Green believed Coote was set to play a key role for North Queensland – but just not yet.
“It was his jersey to lose,” Green said of Morgan at fullback.
“Given Cootey hasn’t played a lot of footy in the last two years – I think he has played six games – he needs a bit of footy in the legs.
“Cootey will make a contribution for us this year at some stage – I am not sure when that is, but.”
In other team news, ex-Bronco Ben Hannant will partner co-captain Matt Scott in the front row, relegating former Test prop James Tamou to the bench.
Still, Green dipped his hat to Tamou who completed a long comeback from neck surgery with a head-turning 45 minute trial display last weekend against Cup side PNG Hunters.
North Queensland take on the Roosters for the first time since their controversial 31-30 loss in the 2014 NRL semi-finals.
Green did not have to be told his side were expected to go a couple of steps further in their 20th year.
“I’ve been a little bit excited this week,” he said.
“I said to the boys to make sure we build our week ready for Saturday, we don’t want to get ready for the game too early.
“I’ve got to keep myself in check as well.”