Cameron Mun­ster


Inside Sport - - FOOTY FINALS -

When the dean of this gen­er­a­tion of full­backs, Billy Slater, went down with in­jury mid­way through the 2015 sea­son, it was taken as a sym­bol of the Storm’s own clock wind­ing down. The great Mel­bourne dy­nasty (or what passes for one in the mod­ern NRL), with its brain-trust of Slater, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and coach Craig Bel­lamy, was not age­less.

But what the Storm have proven to be dur­ing this hey­day is mad­den­ingly func­tional. No other team has proven as adept at find­ing play­ers, and then building them up. When Slater went down, in came Cameron Mun­ster – and not only did Mel­bourne keep hum­ming along, but the tal­ented young Queens­lan­der pointed the way to a post-Slater fu­ture. The rest of the league surely groaned.

Slater’s re­turn was meant to push Mun­ster some­where else in the back­line, but after Billy was in­jured again in the very first round, Mun­ster was once again the man at the back. It had been a dis­rupted start to the year for Mun­ster, punc­tu­ated by the 12-month rep footy ban for break­ing cur­few at a camp for emerg­ing Ma­roons.

It was most un-Storm-like be­hav­iour. The re­proach, how­ever, be­came a teach­able moment for Mun­ster. “It’s been in the back of my mind to play well this year and make amends for it,” Mun­ster told a Queensland news­pa­per. “I had a good chat with Cam Smith and he said, ‘Cameron, I’m dis­ap­pointed in what you’ve done.’”

Prop­erly mo­ti­vated, Mun­ster has ex­celled for his club, which he re-signed with through to 2019. Con­trary to predictions of de­cline, the Storm en­ters these fi­nals looking as well as they have for the last cou­ple of years. The way Smith and Cronk guide them around the field re­mains un­equalled, but they also have a power trio at the back of Mun­ster, Marika Koroi­bete and Su­liasi Vu­ni­valu to give them finishing touch.

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