Michael Morgan is back for the Cowboys
RETURNING Cowboys star Michael Morgan will be a minute by minute proposition for Sunday's clash against the Titans as he and his wife Brianna await the birth of their first child.
The star playmaker has been named to make his comeback from shoulder surgery for the Round 13 game on the Gold Coast, but Cowboys officials have revealed their contingency plan should Morgan need to rush to his wife's side.
"It's something we can't control; if Michael wasn't able to make the game, Jake Clifford's in the squad and he'll just come straight in there," Cowboys interim coach Josh Hannay said.
"I'm pretty good as a coach, but I can't control when she does give birth to the little one, as much as I'd like to be able to.
"So we'll see what happens there."
Brianna is due to give birth to the couple's first child in the coming days, with the pair sharing their excitement on social media.
"Any day now," a heavily pregnant Brianna captioned a recent picture of herself and Morgan at home.
Morgan comes into the starting side at halfback in place of Clifford, who has been moved to the extended bench.
Morgan played his last game for the Cowboys in Round 2, and his experience and game management has been sorely missed in the intervening weeks.
The Cowboys have struggled with last play options in particular, and it was clearly evident in last week's 14-12 loss against the Raiders - a game the Cowboys could have sealed with a playmaker of Morgan's experience.
"He will give us a lot there," Hannay said.
"Our young guys have been doing their best and I've been really happy with them for the most part, but it's going to be great having Michael back out there.
"That calming influence that he has and that experience that he has to know the right play at the right time."
Hannay said Clifford would be given the support he needs to rediscover his form.
"I had a number of difficult conversations this morning, there's a few changes to the side, but Jake was disappointed," he said.
"We spoke about his game, where I think he needs to improve, and again the point I stress to him is that it's not up to him to just go away on his own and fix his game.
"We need create a learning environment where we're helping players like Jake go away and get better.
"So it's my job as a coach to help jake in the areas he needs to improve."
Morgan is set to partner Ben Hampton in the halves in yet another new starting halves combination for the Cowboys, who will also field another debutant in Emry Pere, who has been named on the bench.
Hannay said Hampton had shown glimpses in last week's home defeat.
"I thought Ben really came to the contest. I thought he kicking game was astute, I thought he bought other people into the game and I just love his competitive nature," he said.
"He represented everything we're trying to create here, so I had no hesitation in leaving him in there."
The Cowboys will also welcome back Tom Opacic, who will play in the centres, and forward Josh McGuire who missed last week's clash through suspension.