After a year living like a prisoner, Cameron Munster finally feels like he’s delivered the breakout performance on the big stage to move out of the shadows of his club and Queensland legends.
The mercurial Maroons five-eighth was named man of the match in the series-clinching 20-14 win at Suncorp Stadium and took home the prestigious Wally Lewis Medal as player of the 2020 series.
Despite playing just two minutes of Origin II after suffering a head knock, Munster was the catalyst for a stunning series triumph no one saw coming.
Maroons legend Allan Langer took great delight in branding Munster “Maggi two-minute noodle” after his unfortunate Sydney performance but the Storm pivot delivered a virtuoso performance in Brisbane to enhance his reputation as one of the game's elite playmakers.
For Munster it caps a glorious 2020 season in which he thrived under the COVID restrictions of living life in a bubble to bring out his best football with a career-defining premiership for Melbourne and now a second Origin series win after being a part of Queensland’s last triumph in 2017.
The Maroons star has endured tough nights on the big stage in the past, but feels like this is the individual breakthrough he needed to show he can lead the Storm into a new era.
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“The boys had a dynasty for so many years those Big Three (Smith, Slater, Cronk) and there was always question marks over whether I was up for the big games and whether I was up for the big moments especially with those guys leaving,” Munster said.
“Smithy is 50-50 next year. I can’t wait to see what he wants to do and try to make a mark on my own and prove everyone wrong and show I can really perform on the big stage.”
If anyone has thrived during a bizarre and challenging year it's Munster.
For a player who has probably enjoyed life away from the field as much as he has on it at times, the confined nature of living inside the NRL bubble for seven months has simply brought out his best.
He had wanted a few extra days after the Storm premiership to celebrate before going into the Origin camp, but now plans simply to disappear for a while to reflect on a season like no other.
“It’s been tough, I’ve been in isolation or the bubble for seven months. I haven’t gone out or known anything else to be honest. It will feel weird to enjoy a bit of freedom,” Munster said.
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“I feel like I’ve been a bit of a prisoner … but it’s all worth it. Premiership winner and now won a series by myself.
“I played my debut in 2017 and felt like I didn’t really contribute the first two games as I didn’t play.
“This is something I won’t forget and people around the world won’t forget either.
“It’s a big honour [Wally Lewis Medal]. I was shocked to be honest I only really played two games. I don’t play for those accolades.
“I feel like this is one of the best years I’ve had in one of the worst years we’ve had in the world.
“It’s great to have these accolades and have my name in the history books with that kind of stuff but at the end of day I just want to be a good person.
“It’s time to celebrate, let my hair down and go missing for a couple of weeks.”
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