Cameron Munster says he’s ready to lead his Maroons teammates. (Adam Head)
Cameron Munster says he’s ready to lead his Maroons teammates. (Adam Head)

Munster’s dream to captain Maroons

CAMERON Munster says his days of alcohol-fuelled partying are over as the Maroons ace sets his sights on succeeding Greg Inglis as Queensland captain.

As he prepares for his third Origin match in Game Two on Sunday night at ANZ Stadium, Munster has outlined his ambition to take on a leadership role as the Maroons look to a new generation of interstate stars.

Just six months ago, Munster confronted the first crisis of his NRL career when he was put on notice by Australia coach Mal Meninga over his boozy behaviour during the Kangaroos' World Cup campaign.

During that tournament, Munster had a minor altercation with Ben Hunt, his now Queensland halves partner, at a Darwin pub - a seminal moment that convinced the Maroons pivot he had to grow up.

Munster recently admitted he carried on like a "d***head" and part of his reformation involved a two-month alcohol ban.

Now, at a time when Queensland are seeking fresh leaders to replace departed stars Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and Darius Boyd, Munster is getting serious about leadership.

Munster shows the way at training. (Adam Head)
Munster shows the way at training. (Adam Head)
While Inglis is locked in as Queensland's captain for at least the next 18 months, the 23-year-old Munster believes his evolution as an Origin player involves the responsibility of captaincy.

"To be honest, I'd love the chance to captain Queensland," said Munster, who will get his first taste of Origin on Sydney soil on Sunday after his dream debut at Suncorp last year and his recent outing in Melbourne.

"It's every kid's dream to captain their state.

"If 'Kevvie' (Queensland coach Kevin Walters) or whoever the coach is at the time decides I am the right option to captain the team and think that I can direct the team in the right direction, I would be more than happy to take the captaincy.

"Only 13 players have captained the Maroons so it would be nice to have the 'c' next to my name and lead a Queensland team out in front of a big crowd in Sydney or Brisbane or Melbourne.
Having put his troubles behind him, Munster is marching to the same beat. (Adam Head)
Having put his troubles behind him, Munster is marching to the same beat. (Adam Head)

"Everyone knows it is a hard thing to do, not many have captained the Maroons well.

"At the moment, I'm happy to just be a part of the Maroons, but if in the next four or five years they want to me to step up as a leader, I'd do the best I can."

 

If anyone can appraise Munster's transformation from teenage unknown to Origin playmaker, it is Storm and Maroons forward Tim Glasby.

The 29-year-old Glasby first saw Munster emerge as a 17-year-old in the Intrust Super Cup and while he jokes about his larrikin personality, the Storm prop has detected a change in the Maroons five-eighth's attitude.

"We go back a long way," Glasby said.

"Actually, I was captain of the Central Queensland Capras when he made his debut (in the Intrust Super Cup). He was only 17 and I vividly remember 'Munni' making his debut against the Northern Pride.

"At that stage, it was hard to know what would happen. Munni had a lot of skill but playing Queensland Cup in a regional area, you don't know which way a kid will go.

Glasby has praised his teammate’s growth. (Adam Head)
Glasby has praised his teammate’s growth. (Adam Head)

"I've seen a lot of very talented players fall through the cracks. Looking back, Cam had a lot of skill and he was clearly naturally talented, but I probably thought he was an annoying little bugger.

"I didn't know where he would go in the game, but Cam's always been a good fella at heart and he just had to mature a bit.

"I've enjoyed playing with him at the Storm and it was great to see his amazing debut in Origin III last year. I thought he was pretty good in Game One this year as well, so he's clearly up to this level and he understands his role in the game now."

Whether Munster stays loyal to the Storm remains the million-dollar question.

Munster celebrates a premiership win with Storm teammate Billy Slater. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Munster celebrates a premiership win with Storm teammate Billy Slater. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

He is off-contract next year and there were fears Munster could walk if Storm coach Craig Bellamy defected to the Broncos.

But Bellamy's decision last Sunday to commit to Melbourne for the next three years has helped the Storm's chances of retaining the Queensland sensation.

"It's exciting for the club with 'Bellyache' re-signing," Munster said.

"It's outstanding for Melbourne. He's a one-club coach and one of the supercoaches of this competition. I'm still deciding what I should do, but I'm more comfortable with him staying at the club.

"I'm not going anywhere anytime soon, but whatever happens, happens. I'm enjoying my footy at the moment and everything will take its course from there."