MUNSTER OUT A MONSTER BLOW
Cowboys spurred on by Melbourne’s misfortune
MELBOURNE’S “big three” enjoy most of the plaudits but Dallas Johnson believes the potential loss of Cameron Munster would be a huge legup for North Queensland as his two former teams ready for battle in Townsville.
Munster has been in spectacular form all season and was rewarded with a Queensland debut, outstanding at fiveeighth in the Maroons’ seriesdeciding win in game three.
But the 22- year- old is in doubt for Friday night’s blockbuster clash with the Cowboys after twinging his ankle in the Storm’s 40- 6 belting of Manly on Sunday afternoon.
The five- day turnaround will not help Munster, who provides the Storm an X- factor that complements the class of Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk in the NRL ladder- leader’s spine.
“He most definitely is their X- factor,” Johnson said.
“Everyone thought when he was playing at fullback he was awesome and it may be remiss to play him at five- eighth, but he’s taken that really well.
“He’s building confidence off Origin as well. To play that well on debut shows he’s going to be around a fair while.”
If Munster did play against North Queensland, it would set up an intriguing battle with Michael Morgan after he was given the nod to play fiveeighth over the Cowboys playmaker in Origin III, with Morgan playing centre.
But Storm coach Craig Bellamy said Munster was in extreme doubt after Melbourne’s win over the Sea Eagles.
“I’m not quite sure how bad it is but I’m thinking for him to get treated a couple of times on there then it must be pretty bad,” Bellamy said.
“He is tough. If it was nearly anyone else they would have gone off but he is a tough kid.
“I would imagine there is a bit of damage there. I’m no medical person, but for him to finish the game – most people in this game wouldn’t.
“I couldn’t see him playing next week but he is a tough kid. There’s obviously an issue there.”
Smith said he had noticed similarities in the current Storm crop to the 2007 grand final- winning team, a premiership eventually stripped due to salary cap breaches.
“It’s quite a similar team, ( in 2007) we had some older senior players guiding the team around but the others were kids with a lot of enthusiasm, that’s what we’ve got here at the moment,” Smith said.
“The one thing that side was they were tough, they were ruthless in how they played their football.
“I can see that in this team, there’s no doubt, ( but) we’ve got a way to go before we can p play like that ’ 07 team did.
“( Against Manly) it was a great victory and we scored a fair few points, but I don’t t think we played our best footb ball for the 80 minutes.”
MAIN MAN: Former Storm and Cowboys star Dallas Johnson ( inset) believes the loss of Cameron Munster ( main) would be a huge boost for North Queensland on Friday night.