Michael Morgan of the Cowboys looks to pass the ball during the Round 4 NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Penrith Panthers at 1300SMILES Stadium in Townsville, Thursday, March 29, 2018. (AAP Image/Michael Chambers)
Michael Morgan hopes Canterbury feel the backlash as North Queensland's ageing superstar Johnathan Thurston stews over fears he may have played one NRL season too many.
Former Test half Greg Alexander, now a NSW State of Origin advisor to new Blues coach Brad Fittler, claimed Thurston was "looking like someone that's possibly played the game a little bit too long" during the Cowboys' 22-12 loss to the Warriors last Saturday.
"I've seen players when they get too old. They hit the ground more often, they are easier to tackle, they've lost half a yard of speed," Alexander said while commentating on Fox Sports.
"That's not to say JT won't find his feet, but that's how he's playing at the moment. He looks half a yard off the pace."
While Morgan considered Thurston too thick-skinned to overly worry about such flak, he predicted the four-time Dally M medallist would certainly have "taken note of it".
"He knows we're not playing the best we can. The sooner we get to that, the better and hopefully he goes out and puts on a clinic this weekend," Morgan said, suspecting the Bulldogs "might have been a bit annoyed" by the criticism.
"He's been doing this for 14 years or something. He's been one of the best players for so long, so we're not worried about it at all."
After winning their opening game of the season, the Cowboys have lost four straight.
The 2017 grand finalists now face an uphill battle just to make this year's finals.
"It's been a rough month of footy," Morgan said.
"It's not ideal and never how you want to start a season, but unfortunately it's where we are and we're working hard to improve and to get back to where we should be and where we know we can be.
"There's no way we're in panic stations or anything like that."
The Bulldogs, also with only one win from five, are likely to be just as desperate when they step on to Townsville's 1300SMILES Stadium on Saturday night.
© AAP 2018