How leaving NSW and her comfort zone made Wallaroos stalwart an even better player

Super W
by Emma Greenwood

Cobie-Jane Morgan is in unfamiliar territory.

A Super W winner with NSW last year in the championship's inaugural season, Morgan is now wearing maroon and shapes as an ace up Queensland's sleeve as they chase a maiden title against the Waratahs juggernaut.

Morgan has been a fixture in Tahs women's line-ups for year and she could have stayed in that position, comfortable in the knowledge she would keep the Wallaroos' no.9 on her back in the lead-up to the next World Cup.

But comfortable is not always best.

Morgan has been pushed outside her comfort zone with the move to Queensland which came about due to an opportunity to work at Marsden State High School with its renowned football programs.

The 29-year-old is shaping not only the Queensland Women's XV's future but the future of a new generation of footy players.

Whether that's in rugby league, rugby sevens or, Morgan hopes, following in her footsteps and playing XVs rugby, remains to be seen.

But she's excited that the opportunities that she has in mentoring these young women as a new dawn of professional sport awaits them.

Cobie-Jane Morgan scores a try for Queensland. Photo: Getty Images

"I get to work with kids and I get to inspire kids," she said.

"And I know what's in front of them. For me, that's super exciting and I want to instill good values in those kids coming through.

"I'm stoked with my job, I love it.

"These girls literally have no idea what's in front of them and that's a really cool thing for me because I can push them down pathways that they don't see at the moment but in five or 10 years' time, everything is going to be at the doorstep for them.

"I want them to be amazing - not just good, amazing - no matter what career or pathway they take."

On the field too, Morgan has been pushed well outside her comfort zone. But she believes it's the best thing that could have happened to her.

The sage advice of Wallaroos coach Dwayne Nestor pushed Morgan to expand her horizons, something she said had made her a better player.

"I had a good chat with Dwayne before I left and he said: 'You could sit comfortably in this NSW team, work your way through to a World Cup and win tournaments but are you going to get the best out of yourself?'

"That put a lot of questions in my mind. I thought, there's another great state, there's another great opportunity with amazing talent up there, what can I do with these players and what can I get from them and what can they get from me?"

 

Jettisoning her safety net was hard but Morgan said the payoff had been incredible.

"To this point in my life, it's been the best thing that I've done," she said.

"It's a lot easier (to be comfortable). I knew the challenges in front but that's the sort of person that I am. I love a challenge, I love working my bum off for other people, so I'm happy."

Morgan was happy 12 months ago, too. Thrilled, in fact, to be part of the Waratahs team that won the inaugural Super W title after an extra-time win against Queensland.

And now here she is, a year later, lining up with the enemy.

"It's not a weird feeling," she said.

"I set some expectations when I came up here and that was just to be as professional as I could - as I was down in NSW.

"It's a very, very strong rivalry. For most sports it's a massive rivalry but particularly with rugby.

Cobie-Jane Morgan celebrates during Queensland's Super W knockout final win over the Brumbies. Photo: Getty Images

"I don't know if there's a lot of hatred but the common goal is obviously to beat NSW ultimately and having that loss last  year by only a penalty goal right at the end, I felt that amongst the girls and we've spoken about it earlier in the year.

"That's driven them to want to be better than last year … we've used this common goal 'better than before'.

"But the sense among this team is when you put this jersey on, it feels like you've got armour around you and a lot of that is because of the girls and where they've been in their part in this journey. So I feel good."

One of the first things the Morgan did when she arrived in Queensland was to seek out longterm rival and Queensland flyhalf Lavinia Gould to get to know her off the field.

The pair quickly formed a friendship that has led to a greater understanding on the field and an uncanny knowledge of each other's game that could drive Queensland to a Super W title on Sunday.

"Her wealth of experience has opened my eyes up to a lot of things, not That I hadn't seen before, but she made things a lot clearer to me on the field," Morgan said.

"She plays the game like a game of chess.

"She's so smart and can direct play and she was one of the main people I had to connect with straight away.

"It's quite interesting, we had this kind of sixth sense about us.

The Waratahs women will host the Super W final in a fortnight. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley

"I know exactly where she is the whole time.

"But we do a lot of work off the field together to make it happen on the field, because we've got a big job to do together leading the pack."

Queensland coach Moana Virtue said Morgan's super quick delivery was a dream for forwards and had given her pack more time to make decisions with the ball, something that could be crucial as they try to match the Waratahs as the teams sound each other out in the early stages on Sunday.

Queensland's silky backline can deliver a knockout punch to its interstate rival but it will only get a chance if the forwards can match the Waratahs.

It's a big ask but Morgan's speed at the breakdown and knowledge of her teammates' games after working hard to mesh with her new side could prove the difference.

"That's a first five's dream, when you're getting ball and having time to be able to have a look and weigh up your options, that's what she gives us," Virtue said.

"I think what probably stands out the most is she's slipped right in and all the girls get on really well.

"There's no egos, there's no attitude, everyone just meshes really well together and I think that's been good for her because the pressure's not on her as much, there's a lot of leaders in there and everyone pulls their weight.

"For her, just to slide in and do her own role is what I've seen as a role for her."

Now, there's just one more role for Morgan to play - a Super W title winner with Queensland.

"There's one step to go," she said.

"That's our common goal, focus on getting the job finished."

Queensland Women's XV take on NSW Waratahs women in the Super W grand final at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, April 7, kicking off at 4:30pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Kayo and via RUGBY.com.au.