Munster maturity key to Storm NRL success

Cameron Munster has been given greater playmaking responsibilities in Melbourne's attack in 2018.
Cameron Munster has been given greater playmaking responsibilities in Melbourne's attack in 2018.

Cameron Munster's ability to deliver for Melbourne under pressure is a reflection of his personal growth, according to his long-time teammate Christian Welch.

Before Friday night's NRL preliminary final against Cronulla, Munster has emerged as a genuine match winner, nailing the field goal that piloted the Storm into the final four.

His playmaking talent was never in question but whether the 24-year-old could replace the club's long-time go-to man Cooper Cronk was.

Less than 12 months ago Munster was on the outer at the Storm, hauled out of Kangaroos camp to be told by Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy that binge-drinking was threatening his career.

Admitting he had a problem, Munster put himself on a booze ban and into the hands of a psychologist.

Kicking the Storm to within a game of the NRL grand final and now the most sought-after signature in the competition as the game's premier five-eighth, the results are there to see.

Welch, who has played with Munster since the Storm under-20s and lived with him for the past three years, said he'd seen the Queensland five-eighth grow up this season.

"I've seen him mature a lot," said Welch, who has been named on the bench for the clash with the Sharks.

"I think he's really motivated and developed as a person and certainly the way he's playing his footy - with Cooper departing and the way he's being a senior player and driving the team - I think it's a reflection of how far he's come as a person."

Welch said that didn't mean Munster had lost his trademark larrikinism but he was channelling his energy into positive projects, like a sports program that he runs weekly at schools and investing in property.

"Playing in the NRL is a tough job but you do get a lot of spare time," Welch said.

"In previous years he's struggled to have some stuff that keeps him busy but this year he's doing a really good job.

"He's a great bloke to live with and keeps the light side and is always up for doing something whether it's going out for tea or playing golf - you never have a bad time with Munster."

Australian Associated Press