For Michael Morgan and Cameron Munster there is more than just a premiership ring on the line during Sunday’s NRL grand final.
The future of the Queensland and Australian No.6 jerseys are also at stake.
The two halves have been earmarked as generation next by their state and country and will go head-to-head in a tantalising battle when North Queensland, led by Morgan, meet Munster’s Melbourne.
With Cowboys chief playmaker Johnathan Thurston out for the rest of the season with a shoulder injury, Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has a big call to make as to who will fill the five-eighth role during the upcoming World Cup and beyond.
Munster appeared to have the inside running after he was selected at five-eighth for Queensland during State of Origin three and Morgan was shifted to the centres.
He also has a ready-made combination with clubmate and Australian halfback Cooper Cronk.
However in Thurston’s absence, Morgan’s form has been irresistible and over the past four weeks has led the competition in most major attacking stats including try assists (four), linebreaks assists (seven) and forced dropouts (six).
“He’s a class player, he’s been playing some great football,” Munster said of his Maroons teammate.
“There’s a lot of good players in that position at the moment. You’ve got James Maloney in six, you’ve got Michael Morgan, you’ve got Anthony Milford as well. There’s three other people there going for that six position.
“I’m looking forward to playing against him.
“I just love watching the way he plays mate. He’s just a footballer, he plays off instinct and I really enjoyed playing inside him in Origin three.”
Munster put himself firmly in the frame as the country’s best young playmaker when he was selected ahead of Morgan and Daly Cherry-Evans for this year’s Origin decider.
After the Maroons leadership group, in particular Storm captain Cameron Smith, convinced coach Kevin Walters that Munster was the man for the job, he repaid the faith by playing the house down and helped Queensland to a series upset.
Munster said there was no acrimony between the pair and Morgan had taken Walters’ selection decision in his stride.
“Michael’s a great player but also a good bloke,” Munster said.
“He just wanted to do what’s best for the team, the same with me.
“Smithy and the leadership group at the time and Kevvie decided who should play in that postition. He took that decision and accepted it and said ‘whatever’s best for the team’.
“I would have done the same if I was in the same boat.”
TALE OF THE TAPE
How Michael Morgan and Cameron Munster have shaped up over 2017
Try assists: 24
Linebreak assists: 18
Tackle busts: 81
Kick metres: 6,646
Forced dropouts: 21
Try assists: 13
Linebreak assists: 23
Tackle busts: 66
Kick metres: 1000
Forced dropouts: 5
Source: Fox Sports Stats