The 2016 Origin season was certainly an unusual one for Josh Morris, who despite much discussion only found himself playing one game.
Previously an automatic selection, the Canterbury-Bankstown centre was initially selected in an extended training squad for Origin I, following consistent club form which fans have come to expect. With the squad narrowed down to 17, Morris was overlooked in front of Josh Dugan, as Laurie Daley aimed to create more attacking prowess with talented playmaker Matt Moylan at fullback. Despite Morris’ traditionally strong defense against Maroons star Greg Inglis, Dugan’s superior running game got him over the line for the opener.
The selection mattered little, when an elbow injury forced Dugan out of the side at the 11th hour. Morris was recalled to training camp as the most experienced and defensively sound replacement available, which proved to be a good decision from Daley. Despite two crucial errors, Morris shut down Inglis in a way that few other players can, making 15 tackles and 75 metres.
With Dugan ruled out of Origin II, Morris was named again for the game in Brisbane. Unfortunately, this time it was his turn to withdraw from camp injured; the two-time Dally M Centre of the Year hurt his leg and was unable to recover in time. Dylan Walker was shifted to the starting team as replacement and Morris was unable to earn selection again in Origin III.
Josh Morris, like his injured brother Brett, is part of a significant changing of the guard happening in the NSW VB Blues at the moment. Now 30 years old, Morris’s hopes of selection in 2017 must be slimmer than previously, but his 14 strong Origin performances will never be forgotten. Responsible for several magic moments over the course of his career, time will tell how Morris fares next season.