North Queensland Cowboys star Michael Morgan has vowed not to let his game go backwards when Johnathan Thurston makes his highly-anticipated return to the NRL.
Morgan steered the Cowboys to the grand final last year after a season-ending shoulder injury to Thurston, which had many ruling out their premiership hopes.
While Thurston is on track to make his comeback in what will be his 300th first-grade match in round one, Morgan suggested their dynamics in 2018 may change from previous seasons.
"The way we've been playing the last couple of years is that the halfback was on the ball a lot more and a lot more involved," Morgan said.
"It led on from the year I had at fullback, that we fell back to the role where JT was the main half and we had myself and Cootey (fullback Lachlan (Coote) either side and playing out the back sweeping role.
"What way we're going to go to make sure, I don't know if there's going to be one main dominant person, or if we'll share it around a bit."
Morgan, who went on to replace Thurston as Australia's playmaker during their World Cup triumph at the end of the year, is adamant his game will improve.
The 26-year-old finished last season with the most try assists in the NRL (22).
"I don't want my game to go backwards at all and lose what I built on last year," Morgan said.
"I want to continue to move forward and get better as a player.
"I'm sure Greeny (coach Paul Green is) all for that as well. At the moment we'll wait and see what happens."
Morgan admitted talks on a contract extension have been put on hold and joked that there may be little salary cap space available after last year's 10-year deal for Jason Taumalolo.
Although Thurston has already signalled this year would be his last in the NRL.
"I was away over the Christmas break and so was my manager; and Greeny's been away too. It's all just been put on hold a little bit," Morgan said of his negotiations.
"I don't know if there's any money left because Jason took it all.
"I don't know if you remember his big deal he signed, we've all just got to do our best now (and) play for a pie and Coke."
The Cowboys also have key players Coote, Jake Granville, Kane Linnett, Ethan Lowe, Justin O'Neill and Antonio Winterstein off-contract at the end of the year.