North Queensland star Michael Morgan has surpassed Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith to be the NRL's best player at the moment, according to Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson.
At least that's what he told Roosters icon Brad Fittler, who revealed Robinson labelled Morgan the game's pre-eminent superstar even before the Cowboys' 24-16 semifinal win over Parramatta.
A week after nailing an extra-time field goal in an elimination final against Cronulla, Morgan spearheaded the Cowboys into the final four with a try and try assist against the Eels on Saturday night.
But now Robinson has the task of figuring out how to shut down the Queensland State of Origin representative and test utility, when his Roosters host the Cowboys in Saturday's preliminary final in Sydney.
Fittler admitted writing off the Townsville-based club, when champion playmaker Thurston joined co-captain Matt Scott on the sidelines with a season-ending injury in July.
However, he said a revitalised Morgan has convinced him otherwise.
"I think players improve, you improve as you get older and learn a few things. But Michael Morgan's changed. He's a changed person," Fittler said on The Sunday Footy Show.
"Remember when he used to be a quiet, shy, humble bloke? But he just turned into an absolute leader. He's just nailing the moments, and he's not missing at all.
"I was talking to Trent Robinson and he said Michael Morgan's the best player in the comp. That was before the game - that's a fair wrap."
The Roosters have enjoyed the week off after winning their qualifying final against Brisbane. They will again be home at Allianz Stadium to host the Cowboys.
Fittler suggested the Roosters could get the Cowboys on the edges.
"You just need your stars to step up. I think the Roosters have [them]. I think you've got Latrell Mitchell and [Luke] Keary, you need to get them ball and people on the edges.
"[Cowboys centre Kane] Linnett and that are doing a great job, but they're not that super fast, so you've got to somehow find them out."-North Queensland enforcer Jason Taumalolo is free to take his place on the field in Saturday's preliminary final after being cleared of a shoulder charge against Parramatta.
There were fears the Cowboys star would be rubbed out of their clash against the Roosters for what appeared to be a shoulder charge on Eels rival Nathan Brown.
Taumalolo appeared to fail to wrap his arms around Brown as he lined up the Eels enforcer midway through the first half, but was cleared by the match review committee yesterday.
The Kiwis star proved his worth in Saturday's win by running for 236 metres from 21 runs, as well as making 33 tackles.