Munster eyes Thurston-like consistency
A LEAN and mean Cameron Munster is keen to become Melbourne's version of Johnathan Thurston at five-eighth after failing in his bid to succeed Billy Slater in the Storm No.1 jumper.
Munster will run onto AAMI Park for the season-opener against the Broncos next Thursday primed to fire, having dropped three kilograms after a punishing "old school" pre-season under coach Craig Bellamy.
Despite being one of the code's most talented stars, Munster hasn't forgotten his horror display in last year's grand final that saw him sin-binned twice, headlined by him kicking out at Joseph Manu in the Storm's 21-6 loss to the Roosters.
As a teenager, Munster was being groomed to one day replace Slater and when the Storm legend announced his retirement last year, the Maroons pivot spoke to Bellamy about a return to the backfield.
But with Bellamy reluctant to lose Munster's class at Melbourne's scrumbase following the loss of Slater and Cooper Cronk in consecutive seasons, the 24-year-old is happy to put the Storm's interests ahead of his own.
"I'll be honest - I spoke to 'Bellyache' and I told him I wanted to play fullback," he said.
"But I'm not a selfish player. If the best thing for the team is me playing six and putting someone like Jahrome Hughes at fullback, then I'm happy to look at the big picture.
"I didn't expect myself to be playing so well in the No.6 but I'll try and make the six my own for the Storm now and keep it every year.
"We have guys like Billy Walters and Jahrome challenging me for the position so I can't be complacent."
While Munster has produced some sizzling performances on the code's biggest stages, including State of Origin, the Maroons ace says he wants to emulate the dominance of Cowboys great Thurston.
"I need to be more consistent this year, just like 'JT' (Thurston)," Munster said.
"It was pretty embarrassing what I did last year (in the grand final), but I'm determined to learn from it.
"I look at a guy like Johnathan Thurston, he was always able to play to his ability week-to-week and make the big plays under pressure, so I want to take something from his game."
Now Melbourne's senior player at the scrumbase, Munster has spent the summer getting fitter and mentally tougher.
"Craig Bellamy absolutely flogged us this year in pre-season," he said.
"We have a young squad so 'Bellyache' decided he wanted to show the younger guys how hard pre-season is and what the big guns like Billy Slater and Cam Smith did when they first came to the club.
"It's really helped my own fitness.
"I played last year at around 94-95kg but I'm now down to 91kg.
"I felt I needed to lose a few kilos. Some people play better football when they are bigger but I play my best football when I am lighter. I have changed my preparation and routines and hopefully as a result I play a bit better.
"I'm looking pretty lean at the moment. Hopefully I don't put any more weight on and I can play at that weight throughout the season."