Maroons' Turbo-charge Morgan’s defence
As Queensland's makeshift centre, Michael Morgan knows he will be against it when he faces Tom Trbojevic. So the Maroons have called in specialist reinforcements to help him prepare. SUBSCRIBE NOW.
The Blues believe Morgan is the weakest link in the Queensland backline by virtue of his inexperience at left centre and are banking on the power and speed of Trbojevic to save the series for NSW at Optus Stadium.
But Morgan is primed for the challenge, seeking the input of Hodges and even turning to drone footage of Queensland training to ensure he is not defensively exposed by the dangerous Trbojevic.
Assistant coach Hodges is one of Queensland's greatest backs, playing 22 of his 24 Origin games at centre, and has taken up a mentoring role with Morgan, who backed himself to outpoint "Tommy Turbo".
"For me playing out of position, I know it's always going to be a challenge no matter who I'm up against," Morgan said.
"I do have plenty of work to do because I don't play there (centre), so it's been good having 'Hodgo' to help me.
"Hodgo has been really helpful for me, even last camp.
"Defensively, I have been getting him to watch me out on the edge, to see how I'm moving and whether I'm making the right defensive decisions.
"Hodgo was a great player for Queensland so it's been invaluable to have him and Billy Slater (Maroons fullback great) in camp to go through my game."
Another aid for Morgan has been the drone technology used routinely at NRL clubs, filming training sessions from above to give Queensland coach Kevin Walters a bird's eye view of his side's defensive and attacking structures.
Morgan has played 153 NRL games but only twice in the Origin arena has he appeared at centre, a position that requires defensive discipline.
A poor read against an attacking sensation like Trbojevic can be the difference between victory and defeat.
The loud, buzzing drone has been a regular feature at Maroons training sessions and Morgan is using the vision to map out his plan to muzzle his NSW rival.
"I've been sitting down with Hodgo and Billy going through footage to make sure I'm in the right places," he said.
"The drone footage is definitely helpful.
"You see the small movements you make that you probably don't realise. It just gives me a better look as a defensive or attacking line, where I'm at, and what I need to do better."
Morgan made seven runs in Game One - the fewest of Queensland's back five - and NSW centre assistant coach Mark Gasnier believes Trbojevic has the ability to terrorise the Maroons.
"Tommy is a freak," Gasnier said. "He has played there for Australia and his footballing instrincts are up there with the best."