Twin farewell: Reliable Morris wants elusive title before retiring

Josh Morris proved early on in his career he didn't need twin brother Brett by his side to make an impact in the NRL or his father Steve's past successes to reach the top.

But on Monday afternoon he was thanking both men, along with his devoted mother Karen and siblings, for contributing to a 15-year journey that began at the Dragons and will finish at the Roosters this season.

Morris followed suit with his brother Brett to confirm he'll retire after the Roosters' last finals game in an announcement that was made without his wife Elise and children Cali and Jesse in attendance, who remain in lockdown in Sydney.

Everyone from Elise to Brett, injured Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary and hospitalised centre Joseph Manu dialled in to listen to Josh speak on a career that has included 322 NRL appearances, 15 Origins and six Tests.

The former NSW and Australian representative will go down as one of the most dominant centres in modern-day history with 157 tries across four clubs.

His durability was incredible with a minimum 17 NRL games played across all 15 seasons.

However, it was more recently the niggling injuries that began to creep up on the 35-year-old - most notably a hamstring tear a month ago - that steered him towards calling time. 

"It's been a helluva ride. I've been able to play in some of the biggest games and form friendships for life," Morris said on Monday.

"The time is right, it was a decision I made halfway through the season. As an athlete, my body is starting to fail me.

"My body is telling me it's time to hang them up. I'm very content with this decision. It's been a wonderful journey and I have no regrets whatsoever."

Morris began his career at the Dragons in 2007 before shifting to Canterbury where he spent nine seasons at Belmore which included grand final appearances in 2010 and 2014.

He spoke of his admiration for past coaches including former Bulldogs coach Des Hasler, who coached him for six seasons, and Trent Robinson, who he said had taught him several new ways to play the game in the past 18 months.

Hasler reunited Josh with his brother Brett at the Bulldogs in 2015 to coincide with the pair teaming up at the state and international level across a decade of representative appearances.

"We've been on this journey together from the start," Morris said of Brett.

"I wouldn't be half the player I am, nowhere near the player I am without him pushing me.

"To have a brother player playing in the NRL and play at the highest level.

"Spending time apart at different clubs took us to new heights and being able to play alongside each other I'll be forever grateful for.

"My Test debut [with Brett] against France in Paris, that was unique.

"Just standing next to him while the national anthem was playing you remember the sacrifices people made.

"It was like we were out in the backyard. It was like we were just playing out there and having fun."

Morris made his State of Origin debut in 2009 and represented the Blues on 15 occasions, more recently in a shock call-up as a 32-year-old while playing for Cronulla in 2019.

Morris said their Origin I match together at Suncorp Stadium in 2014 were among his career highlights.

"We both got injured but I remember how physical it was and the occasion of the 100th game, the retiring of Arthur Beetson's jersey," Morris said.

"It was a group of men who did whatever it took up there to win the game up there and stop Queensland's eight-year win streak."

Morris still has a final goal to chase before he officially signs off. 

His ambitions to win an elusive first title in the final stages of his career led him to the Roosters alongside Brett in a mid-season switch from Cronulla last year.

Brett's forced retirement in June due to a devastating ACL injury rocked the rugby league world with the twins among the most popular of players in the game.

Josh, who has missed the past month of the competition due to a hamstring injury, has rejoined the Roosters' main squad for training and is a chance to play against the Raiders this Thursday at Mackay.

His message is simple, to not write off the Roosters just yet.

"A lot of people have written us off but internally we haven't," he said.

"I'm looking forward to getting back out there and giving it a shake with these boys.

"I think it's the identity, we know where we've come from and what style of football we want to play. We don't compromise that. We play the game with integrity, honesty and passion.

"It makes me proud. The challenges and setbacks of this year, we haven't made that as an excuse. We're sitting in a good position and have troops coming back."

Robinson said it had been a real joy to coach Josh over the last two seasons.

"To watch the way that he has gone about playing the game throughout his entire career is a reflection of the wonderful athlete and person that he is," he said.

"Josh is one of the best of all time in his position, and his achievements, not only at club level, but also in the representative arena, deserve to be celebrated.

"We all love Josh. He has been incredibly generous in sharing his experience with the younger players around him, and we look forward to seeing out the year together."

 

 

Story first published on NRL.com

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Author: 
Alicia Newton, NRL.com Reporter