Kevin Walters may not have said it directly but it looks like the Brisbane Broncos will be one of several teams vying for Cameron Munster’s signature when he comes off contract.
The Melbourne Storm five-eighth is tipped to hit the open market ahead of the 2024 season, with Wayne Bennett and the Dolphins expected to take a big swing for the 27-year-old.
They could have competition from Walters and the Broncos, although the Brisbane coach said he has not sat down with Munster’s management yet to speak about any potential deal.
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“Every club would be I reckon,” Walters replied when asked if he was interested in signing Munster.
“There’s two or three of those guys in that category (as the best players in the NRL). He’s had a great Origin and backed it up in the last couple of weeks.
“As a player and a coach you want to go against these guys and see what kind of plans we can come up with to limit them.”
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It comes after a report from The Courier Mail claimed Munster had knocked back a $800,000-a-season offer from Melbourne, only further casting doubt over his future at the club.
Munster’s manager and NRL 360 co-host Braith Anasta clarified his client’s contract situation on Wednesday night, reiterating Melbourne is by no means out of the picture.
“There was some miscommunication there (with the story). I just wanted to clarify a few things,” Anasta said.
“Cameron is still negotiating with the Melbourne Storm at the moment. They have been unbelievable throughout the process. Matt Tripp is doing everything in his power to keep Cameron at the club.
“But as it stands right now it looks most likely at this point that we will go to market in November, but things could change between now and then. That’s where it is at right now.”
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Storm coach Craig Bellamy was asked about the fight for Munster’s signature on Thursday, denying it was a distraction and that the man himself has been locked in on the field.
“Nothing seems to ruffle him up too much,” Bellamy said.
“The last conversation we had about it was probably six weeks ago and all he wanted to do was concentrate on his footy for this year. That’s about where we are at the moment.
“Obviously there is a lot of noise, especially at the moment. Hopefully I might be able to have a chat to him in the next couple of days or whatever. But we just want him to play good footy this year and try not put too much pressure on him.
“But having said that, he knows we’re really keen to keep him at our club, he knows how important he is to our club. We’ll go all out with what we can do to keep him here.”
That does not necessarily mean paying overs though and Melbourne is not in the position to do that anyway, as Anasta revealed on NRL 360 on Wednesday night.
“I think ideally Cameron and myself would like them to move more on the (salary) cap than where they are at right now,” Anasta said.
“Unfortunately when they signed Papenhuyzen, Hughes, Grant and Coates that unfortunately limited their ability to move on the cap because they prioritised those players.
“That is where we are at. Hopefully they may be able to move somehow between now and November 1. It doesn’t mean that he won’t sign before then because he loves the club. He may sign after November. He would definitely take slight unders there is no doubt about that.”
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It means the Storm may have to get creative in their pitch to Munster and Bellamy is prepared to do just that, although he was not in a position to comment on the salary cap situation.
“You’ll probably have to talk to the CEO about that, I’m not much on figures,” Bellamy said.
“I don’t really understand some of the rules of the [salary] cap. Those guys handle that, I try and concentrate on coaching the footy team.
“I think perhaps there are a couple of points that I’ll make to him [Cameron] that I think it’s a big advantage to him to stay but he’ll do what he thinks is best for him and his family and we’re OK with that.”
Munster’s price tag is only climbing with every one of his standout performances and the five-eighth has been at his devastating best during Melbourne’s recent three-game winning run.
Munster is averaging 161 run metres in that period and also has three tries, one try assist, four linebreak assists, three linebreaks and 16 tackle busts to his name.
A lot of Munster’s fine form on the field comes back to his dedication off it, namely the drinking ban that Bellamy said has “changed” the playmaker’s life.
“I’m real proud of how he got off the drink straight away,” Bellamy said.
“I wouldn’t say there was always issues around that but now and then it propped its head up. He’s that sort of bubbly personality. Add a couple of beers and alcohol to him and a couple of times it probably got out of hand. I’m really proud of how he’s changed his life around.
“With all due respect, the change for his footy was really important, but it was even more important to change for his personal life.
“He’s got a wonderful partner in Bianca and a little boy Jackson and he’s about eight months old. He didn’t want to take a chance of losing that.
“He saw the light and he’s been on the straight and arrow ever since. I don’t think he’s really missing it because he’s that sort of personality anyway. I think he realises now he doesn’t have to have a drink to be able to have a good time.”