NRL 2021: North Queensland's Michael Morgan quits rugby league in another injury-enforced retirement

The NRL has been rocked with a second forced retirement in 24 hours, with North Queensland Cowboys veteran Michael Morgan announcing his immediate exit from rugby league.

On Thursday, veteran Sydney Roosters hooker Jake Friend hung up his boots after his 20th concussion in 14 years in the opening round of the season against Manly Sea Eagles. 

And Morgan, who has barely strung back-to-back games together since 2020, is also walking away from the sport, citing chronic shoulder problems. 

Morgan recently sought advice from a specialist, after an infection made his recuperating shoulder worse, and decided to pull the pin, informing teammates earlier this week. 

"This is not the way I envisioned my career finishing," Morgan says. 

"I'm retiring knowing I gave myself every opportunity over the last 12 months for my shoulder to be strong enough to continue playing. 

"Unfortunately, the end result was out of my control.Even though I'm hanging up the boots at 29, I'm extremely proud of everything I achieved over the course of 12 seasons as an NRL player.

"As someone who was born and raised in Townsville, the opportunity to join the Cowboys as a 16-year-old was fulfilling a life-long dream and I'm grateful for every moment at this great club.

"Listing every person who contributed to my career would be impossible, but to all my teammates, coaches, everyone who supported me throughout my career, including Cowboys members and fans and most importantly my family, thank you."

NRL 2021: North Queensland's Michael Morgan quits rugby league in another injury-enforced retirement

Morgan played 168 NRL games for the Cowboys, including the 2015 NRL Grand Final against Brisbane Broncos, where he threw the pass that saw winger Kyle Feldt tie the game with seconds remaining.

Long-time halves partner Johnathan Thurston kicked the winning field-goal in extra-time, as the Cowboys claimed their one and only premiership crown.

Morgan led a Thurston-less Cowboys back to the Grand Final two years later in a losing effort against Melbourne Storm.

The five-eighth was also capped 12 times for Australia and was an impact player for the successful Queensland side, playing 12 State of Origin games.

Cowboys chief executive Jeff Reibal says Morgan will be sorely missed, but his contribution to the club will live beyond his playing days. 

"Michael Morgan will be remembered as one of the greatest to ever take the field for the North Queensland Cowboys.

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