Cameron Munster is living his league dream
RUGBY LEAGUE: Rockhampton's Cameron Munster is living the dream.
At just 22, he already has an NRL grand final appearance under his belt and his future at the Melbourne Storm is assured for the next three years.
He has taken some time to reflect on his meteoric rise during a welcome return to his home town.
He will spend 10 days in the Beef Capital with his family before he returns to Melbourne to gear up for another gruelling pre-season.
Cameron talks proudly about his achievements but there is not a hint of arrogance in his tone. It is obvious he is incredibly grateful for the opportunities he has been given and the support he has received that has helped him realise his childhood dream.
"I'm just so lucky to be doing what I'm doing; not everyone gets to do what they love,” he says.
"It's every kid's dream to play NRL and I'm very lucky to be doing it at such a great club.
"Making an NRL grand final is not an easy thing to do and it's incredible to think I have achieved that already.
"When I was running around playing rugby league in Rocky as a junior I could never have imagined I would get this far.”
Cameron will get back into training on November 24 and is excited at what season 2017 will bring.
A positional change is on the cards, with the likely return of Billy Slater to the fullback role that Cameron filled so competently and confidently this season.
"Billy will be back and he'll get the number one position. He's looking ready to go so I am expecting to start in either the centres or at five-eighth.
"I was actually expecting to be playing in the centres this season, to be honest. I had done my pre-season preparation in the centres but when Billy went down in Round 1, I had to change to fullback.
"I wouldn't mind playing in the centres but if the club wants me at six I'm happy to do that. It's a demanding position but it will be a lot easier having Cooper (Cronk) steering the ship around.”
Cameron, who averaged 160 running metres a game this season, said the grand final against the Cronulla Sharks was something he would never forget.
"It was nerve-racking to to be playing in front of 85,000 people, most of them Cronulla Sharks supporters, but it was great to have some Storm supporters there as well.
"I was nervous, I just didn't want to do anything wrong.
"I caught up with mum and dad three hours before the game and I think they were more more nervous than me, to be honest.
"To lose by two points really hurt but you couldn't fault our determination and effort in the game.
"I guess someone has to win and someone has to lose and unfortunately we had to lose.
"Hopefully we can go one better next year.”
On a personal note, Cameron is determined to "back up” his stellar 2016 season with another consistent performance in 2017.
He relishes the opportunity to compete alongside some of the world's best rugby league players at the Melbourne Storm.
He pays special tribute to the mentorship and guidance of Slater, who he says has been pivotal in his development.
"The way he plays is the reason why the fullback position is so different now. He has taught me a lot about shape and defence and has really opened my eyes up,” he said.
"The grand final was such a big thing for me but it was also great to be playing in games where teammates were achieving milestones such as their 300th game with the club.
"Every now and again I look around and am amazed at where I am.
"I sometimes have to pinch myself when I am sitting in the dressing sheds with players like Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk, Jesse Bromwich and the Kiwi boys and coach Craig Bellamy, who is one of the best coaches in the world.”