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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Josh Callinan

Newcastle RL: Macquarie winger reaches GF inside 10 first-grade games

Macquarie winger Dean Morris will play in Sunday's Newcastle Rugby League grand final, having only debuted in first grade midway through this season. Picture by Max Mason-Hubers.

Some players can go their whole careers without playing a grand final.

Not so much for Macquarie Scorpions winger Dean Morris.

The 22-year-old, a club junior who lives at Teralba, will contest the Newcastle Rugby League decider on Sunday in what marks just his 10th game of first grade.

"It's crazy. Higgo [Macquarie captain Liam Higgins] came up to me in the sheds after the game and said 'bet you didn't think you'd be playing in a first grade grand final at the start of the year'. I said 'no way'," Morris told the Newcastle Herald.

A financial planner who recently completed a combined business-commerce degree at University, Morris started the season in reserves.

He was called up to make his top-grade debut less than three months ago, a 50-0 win over The Entrance in round 13.

Morris, outside dropping back once on July 23, has been in Macquarie's main squad ever since and helped them secure third spot on the ladder before a run through the play-offs.

"It's a lot tougher [first grade], but your teammates are higher quality and the opposition are higher quality. It's good," he said.

Not only has Morris been promoted, he's also dealing with a significant positional switch.

Normally in the halves, Morris bounced around centre and the interchange bench during the latter stages of the 2022 campaign before landing on the wing.

"I've played a bit of other positions but mainly in the halves. I've just tried to come in and do as much work as I can really. I think the main thing has been kicking and when do drop back. I've talked to Kerrod [Holland] about that and he's helped me out," he said.

In four appearances out wide, starting in the last round, Morris has crossed for five tries. He nabbed a double in the first week of the finals series, a 36-18 win against Central in the qualifying semi, and recorded a hat-trick in Saturday's thrilling 26-20 victory over Cessnock.

Morris opened Macquarie's scoring inside five minutes, but it was back-to-back efforts in the closing stages to level proceedings at 20-all which had the Toronto faithful on their feet.

"We had the momentum and the crowd behind us and we got there in the end," he said.

Morris has fond memories of watching Macquarie play three consecutive grand finals between 2015 and 2017, but now he'll be out in the middle for the Scorpions at McDonald Jones Stadium.

"I can't wait. It's going to be a good day," he said.

Macquarie are one of only two teams to beat upcoming opponents and minor premiers Maitland this season, 21-20 at Lyall Peacock Field on May 28.

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