Robinson confirms Morris dropped over form slump

Roosters coach Trent Robinson has confirmed his decision to drop Josh Morris was purely performance-based, admitting the 34-year-old was “not up to his usual form”.

Morris was left out of the 17 for this week’s clash against the Knights, with Robinson confirming on Wednesday the omission was not due to an injury.

“Josh would admit he’s not up to his standard. He doesn’t need lessons from me about how to play, he just needed to take five and get back to some training and some rest and then work around what he needs to do,” Robinson said.

“It’s really hard when you see a guy like that and you have to tell them they’re not playing, it’s not a nice thing to do, it’s not about ‘I’ll show you and you need to perform or else’; it’s as much me failing as it is Josh.”

Given the retirements of Jake Friend, Brett Morris and Boyd Cordner this year, the exclusion was a particular shock due to the lack of experience in the team. The decision has put serious doubts over whether Morris will play on in 2022.

“It’s hard when that happens. But we’ve just got to keep pushing forward,” Robinson said. “He’s [Morris] taken it really well, as a well-experienced guy can do. It’s really disappointing but also he understands and he’s got to get back to training and work.”

Josh Morris has been dropped from the Roosters 17 to face the Knights. Credit:Getty

The timing for Morris couldn’t be worse, with the veteran’s family unable to travel to Queensland to join the NRL’s hub.

“It’s tough there, everyone has their own story,” Robinson said of the game’s move to Queensland due to COVID-19 outbreaks. “Josh [Morris] has been really good; his family can’t come because of work reasons. That hasn’t been easy.”

Morris’ axing will see Billy Smith come into the centres and end his injury-riddled 674-day drought for top grade football.

The 21-year-old Rooster has finally overcome a horror string of injuries since his last NRL game in September 2019, which included two serious knee injuries and a shoulder reconstruction.

“I’ve been a fan of Billy for a long time. He’s got a hardness and an intensity about the way he trains and he turns up every single session. I like the way he attacked the game on the weekend,” Robinson said.

“He’s still learning the game at NRL level but he played with a consistency in that game and took his moments as well. He came up with some high-quality plays, it was a good reintroduction into the NRL.”

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