JOHNATHAN Thurston declared Queensland would "pick and stick" with Michael Morgan after the classy Cowboys pivot played through the pain barrier to sink South Sydney.
Under pressure from Broncos rival Anthony Milford for his Origin spot, Morgan quashed any debate, producing his best game of the season to spearhead a 20-6 win in Townsville.
It was an inspired performance under duress from Morgan, who required a painkilling injection on his shoulder at halftime to finish a brutal contest against a plucky Rabbitohs outfit.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters turned up the heat on Morgan earlier in the week, revealing he was considering Milford for the critical Maroons No.14 utility slot.
But Morgan only needs to stay fit to stave off Milford, with his first-half try giving North Queensland the impetus to surge to a 14-0 halftime lead.
Cowboys champion Thurston later rated his halves partner's chances of being dumped for Origin I - absolutely zero.
"That's the Queensland way, we pick and stick," Thurston said. "Even before my time, you really need to play badly to lose your jersey. Morgo did really well."
Green said Morgan had not suffered major damage and lauded his ability to play tough.
"It was important he played well," he said. "That's part of his development ... to play well when you're not 100 per cent fit.
"He scored a really nice try and was dangerous throughout the game."
The Maroons Mr Fixit was ably supported by fullback Lachlan Coote, who produced a classy try assist and two trysaving tackles in his return from a calf injury.
Hulking back-rower Jason Taumalolo charged for 211 metres in his comeback from a two-match ban, but it was Morgan who provided the glamour amid the midfield grit.
The Cowboys are an infinitely more potent offensive unit when their playmaking spine operates in concert.
Granted, Thurston is their talismanic main man, but speedy halves partner Michael Morgan and classy custodian Lachlan Coote give the Cowboys an extra dimension.
Morgan lacked his dynamic edge in the opening month but on this display, Queensland would be foolish to axe him. His 27th minute effort to open the tryscoring was the perfect demonstration of Morgan's speed and potency in the opposition red zone.
If Morgan was dangerous on the right, Coote was having fun on the left. After missing the past fortnight with a calf injury, Coote's first half was electric and he was a constant menace to the Rabbitohs.
But Green was equally pleased with his side's defensive mentality after leaking 26 points last week against the Titans.
"They turned up with a plan to take us on up the middle," Green said.
"It was a real arm wrestle, but I'm really proud with the way we defended and got on top.
"Defensively we were better, I wanted to see some improvement and I got that."
NORTH QUEENSLAND 20 (S Fensom G Gela-Mosby M Morgan tries J Thurston 4 goals) bt SOUTH SYDNEY 6 (R Jennings try A Reynolds goal) at 1300 SMILES Stadium. Referee: Gavin Badger, Jon Stone. Crowd: 13,671.
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