Morris puts club before cash in rare selfless act
ANY journo who couldn't pull together a decent yarn from last weekend's NRL round is hardly worth their salt. From upsets to brilliant individual performances, round 23 was a cracker.
Just a few short weeks ago even the most pessimistic of fans would not have envisaged the past four premiers being involved in shock results that have suddenly turned the premiership race on its ear. And it was barely conceivable the Cowboys, Storm and Sharks would each be rolled on the one weekend.
Add to that the incredible fairytale of Jarryd Hayne landing a match-winning field goal for the Gold Coast Titans, in just his second game of rugby league in more than 18 months. And the return to form of Anthony Milford, with nine tackle busts, was mesmerising and timely for the under-siege Broncos.
But the most enlightening moment of the weekend for this sometimes cynical old scribe might have been missed by many as it failed to be a headline grabber. It was, nevertheless, a rarely heard missive from a modern-day player.
In a scarce display of club loyalty, Bulldogs winger Brett Morris declared that a decision on his availability for the end-of-season Four Nations tournament would be left to his coach, Des Hasler.
Morris returned from a serious injury eight weeks ago and has been outstanding since, scoring nine tries in just seven games. He has emerged as a front-line candidate to grab a Kangaroos jumper.
But while he may be keen to tour, his views expressed at the weekend rarely emanate from the mouths of players. He says because he has missed so much footy that he owes the club, and if they want him to rest up and not tour, he will abide by that decision.
These are words that should warm the hearts of all NRL coaches and fans because usually, where rep football is concerned, it is the player dictating to the club, not vice-versa.
How often do we hear a player say "I'm hoping to be right for Origin” when it is the club that pays his wage? But can we blame them, when they are paid $30,000 a game.
Recently I spoke with a player suspended for an incident in Origin. He could play the next Origin match, but the one-game suspension was to be served with his struggling club.
When I suggested - tongue in cheek, admittedly - he should have elected to miss the Origin game, as that is where his transgression took place, he looked at me as if I was a complete and utter idiot. "Are you going to pay me the $30,000,” was his retort.
And therein lies the reason the attitude of Brett Morris is a breath of fresh air, and a rare selfless act.