Hobbling on the sideline, Josh Morris brushed aside the Blues’ medical staff to get back into the defensive line and make an important tackle on Greg Inglis, having been inspired by twin brother Brett’s heroics to play on with a dislocated shoulder moments earlier.
There were fears on Thursday night that Josh Morris would be sidelined for 6-8 weeks with a posterior cruciate ligament injury, while Brett is set to need a secondary shoulder reconstruction at some point, which would rule him out of the rest of the NRL season, should it need to be done immediately.
The Morris twins became part of Origin folklore after they played on nursing severe injuries, and teammate Robbie Farah labelled Brett’s efforts as the toughest he had seen on a rugby league field. Brett dislocated his shoulder while scoring a try in the 19th minute and looked certain to leave the field. However, he played on.
The carnage from Wednesday’s opening Origin match will have an enormous impact on the NRL and Origin II. The Morris lads are in doubt, while Anthony Watmough (biceps) faces an uncertain future. It is understood that Watmough has played most of this season with a partial biceps tear, however, he ruptured it while playing for the Blues. He could play on, depending on where the tear is.
Josh Morris was unsure when he did the injury but felt discomfort when he attempted a kick-chase midway through the second half. He sought attention from the medical staff but brushed them aside so he could finish the defensive set, eventually making an important tackle on Inglis, before leaving the field.
“I tried to stay out there for as long as possible,” Morris said. “Whenever I was moving laterally it kept locking up.
“Brett is the brave one. He was in serious pain. I was the first one there when he scored that try, I could tell it was pretty serious. Seeing him get back on the wing gave me inspiration and a lift.
“I thought he was gone for sure. I spoke to him when he got up and i told him that we needed him and just getting through the game would give everyone a lift. He was in a fair bit of pain the whole time. He just said he was trying to get through as long as he can. That gave me inspiration. I was injured as well and I was just trying to follow his lead and stay out there for as long as I could.”
Experienced Blues doctor Nathan Gibbs said he expected Brett would “ultimately” need to undergo a reconstruction on his right shoulder, which had him miss a chunk of the 2007 season for St George Illawarra.
“Every time he would’ve landed on it would’ve hurt,” Gibbs said of Brett. “Every tackle he would’ve made it would’ve hurt.
“Sometimes with the recurrence subluxation, you might be able to keep playing until the end of the season. Other times you might choose not to do that. A lot comes back to individual clubs.”
Darius Boyd scored two tries opposite Morris and looked to have scored a match-equalling four-pointer only to be held up by a battered Morris in the dying stages.
Farah said that moment was pivotal.
“That will go down in Origin folklore,” Farah said. “To dislocate his shoulder and to come up with a play like that to save the game for us is probably one of the toughest things I’ve seen.”
Skipper Paul Gallen was nursing a stiff neck on Thursday and is expected to need a cortisone injection to play on. The Maroons were not unscathed: Cooper Cronk (broken arm) will miss up to three months of football, Billy Slater (shoulder) is out for at least two weeks and likely to miss game two, while Daly Cherry-Evans (hip) and Cameron Smith (ankle) are in doubt for the return game in Sydney.