NRL's Morris walks off with head held high

Sydney Roosters star Josh Morris walks off after defeat to Manly but with his head held high.
Sydney Roosters star Josh Morris walks off after defeat to Manly but with his head held high.

In Josh Morris's long NRL career there was still time to create one last little bit of history.

The 35-year-old's 325th and final first-grade game wasn't a fitting way for the veteran to call time - his Sydney Roosters copping a 42-6 thrashing at the hands of Manly.

It does however mean Morris ends with one last achievement - forming an exclusive group of one as the first NRL player to finish his career in the north Queensland town of Mackay.

While the last game was a disappointment, the former Kangaroo and NSW State of Origin representative walks away as one of the game's modern greats.

He might not have won a premiership - twice featuring on the losing side in grand finals - but Morris scored 158 tries in his career and forged a reputation for sturdy defence and a hard-working attitude coaches at St George Illawarra, Canterbury and the Roosters could only admire.

"It's been a hell of a ride the last 15 years," Morris said.

"Some of the best moments of my life, and I got to share them with my brother and my best mate. Whilst tonight was tough.

"It's not going to define how I think about my whole career. I've just loved every minute of it."

Morris spent most of his career playing alongside twin brother Brett, whose own first-grade time ended earlier this year due to a serious knee injury.

His brother's setback was just one of several season-ending injuries the Roosters endured in 2021, a situation Morris said added an extra sense of achievement to his final campaign in first grade.

"Sometimes we just had to laugh," Morris said.

"When we were having conversations, we were like 'who have we got' and we'd just start laughing.

"That's how dire it got at some stages but whoever came in did a job.

"We debuted nine kids this year and they all did the jersey proud.

"Whilst this season didn't finish the way we wanted to we can be super proud of what this group has been able to achieve with the adversity that they've had in front of them."

Morris' future plans include launching his own midstrength beer and completing a carpentry course but first, and fittingly for someone whose whole career has been intrinsically linked to family, he is looking forward to spending time with his wife and kids after being based in Queensland for 10 weeks.

It's time Roosters coach Trent Robinson believes no-one in his team has earned more.

"There's a saying about filling the 60 seconds with a distance run, about running every second of your minute, and he ran every second of that minute, right to the end," Robinson said.

"He can rest now and feel really proud about the way that he played the game of rugby league."

Australian Associated Press