Child’s play for Mun­ster

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - 2018 GRAND FINAL - MICHAEL CARAYANNIS

MOST weeks Cameron Mun­ster finds him­self stand­ing in front of chil­dren. What the im­pres­sion­able young­sters don’t know is Mun­ster is get­ting more out of the weekly ses­sions than those bud­ding foot­ballers could ever know.

This is part of the evo­lu­tion of Mun­ster. A prized tal­ent with rough edges.

Af­ter be­ing sent home briefly from Aus­tralia’s World Cup cam­paign last year, Mun­ster knew he needed to find more of a pur­pose than just his on­field per­for­mances. He de­vised a plan with Mel­bourne Storm sport psy­chol­o­gist Jackie Lauder which would see him start work­ing with chil­dren.

“It’s some­thing I needed to change,” Mun­ster said of his be­hav­iour. “I don’t go out as much now. I worry about other things in life that I en­joy do­ing like golf and do­ing a cou­ple of clin­ics with kids.

“It’s some­thing I re­ally en­joy. Jackie de­cided for me to do it and men­tioned that I was re­ally good with kids.”

Lauder reached out to Coach Ap­proach di­rec­tor and friend Libby Kirch­ner, whose com­pany takes elite ath­letes into schools and run sport­ing pro­grams.

Mun­ster is paid for his weekly ap­pear­ances. But he is yet to claim a dol­lar. In­stead he has told Kirch­ner to do­nate every cent to Di­a­betes Aus­tralia.

“The Storm like get­ting their play­ers out and do­ing things for them­selves,” Kirch­ner said. “We thought Cameron could not only teach the kids but also learn from them.

“I was aware of his past but I’ve learnt Cameron will do any­thing for any­one. It’s hav­ing a fo­cus in life and know­ing that you are an in­spi­ra­tion to so many. When you have 100 kids in front of you, they only see what you’re do­ing that day. It’s only the adults who know your past.

“Next year I’ll be get­ting him to do an hour talk to the older kids as well.”

Mun­ster has been a con­stant at the pro­grams this year. The only time he has made him­self un­avail­able was dur­ing the State of Ori­gin se­ries and this week lead­ing into to­day’s grand fi­nal.

“Re­li­a­bil­ity,” Kirch­ner says when asked to de­scribe Mun­ster. “I find a lot of pro­fes­sional ath­letes some­times say they are go­ing to be there and they aren’t. Cam gives me a whole month plan and tells me where his days off are.

“If he com­mits he is al­ways there. He could go on and study teach­ing and coach­ing. I have a 13- and 16-year-old and they both look up to him.

“He is al­ways the last at the schools sign­ing au­to­graphs.”

Mun­ster’s on-field per­for­mance has ben­e­fited from a more set­tled life off the field.

He will fea­ture in his third suc­ces­sive grand fi­nal to­day with his in­flu­ence never greater. In his first sea­son he had the free­dom of play­ing at full­back while last year he had the safety blan­ket of Cooper Cronk.

Mun­ster said he had taken on a big­ger role.

“Since Cooper’s gone I’ve had to take on more of a role,” Mun­ster said. “If you asked us when Coops left if we would make the top four and be in the grand fi­nal — prob­a­bly not. But a lot of hard work has gone though (to make it hap­pen).

“If you told me at the start of my ca­reer I would end up in three grand fi­nals in three years I would’ve laughed.”

Cameron Mun­ster.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.