Rival: Valentine Holmes passes the ball to a teammate during a Cronulla Sharks training session at Southern Cross Group Stadium on Monday. Photo: Brendon ThorneA pre-season night out in Brisbane that cost eight Queenslanders a chance to play Origin in 2016 has divided two of the NRL’s young superstars, who will square off in Sunday’s decider.
Melbourne Storm fullback Cameron Munster hasn’t forgotten how he was hung out to dry and made the “scapegoat” for the indiscretions of several Queenslanders during this year’s Emerging Maroons camp.
While he didn’t want to make it public, Fairfax Media understands there was plenty of finger-pointing at Cronulla winger Valentine Holmes, who allegedly dobbed Munster into Queensland officials for missing curfew.
When asked about their relationship, the Storm No.1 hesitated when describing him as a friend, but made no secret of the fact “we’ll be going out there to take each other’s heads off” when they square off in Sunday’s NRL grand final.
Holmes was fined for causing a public nuisance and obstructing police at a taxi rank in Brisbane in January, with Munster, who says he wasn’t with Holmes at the time, later sanctioned for missing curfew.
Fairfax Media has been told that the Melbourne fullback was disappointed to be named and privately blamed the Sharks winger, with another six players consequently banned from playing Origin in 2016 by the QRL for missing curfew.
While Munster didn’t point the finger at Holmes when he expressed his frustrations over being made the “scapegoat”, he admitted he was disappointed with the way it played out.
“I was more disappointed in the fact that I was the only one getting thrown in the media,” Munster told Fairfax Media.
“I was a bit of a scapegoat, but I can’t whinge about it too much … I went out for late curfew. Val [Holmes] wasn’t with me at the time. Unfortunately he got caught and then unfortunately we all got caught. It was a silly decision that I made, but it’s made me a lot smarter and a lot more driven for success.”
Disrespectful – that was the word used by Cameron Smith when he summoned Munster into the club’s boardroom to discuss his pre-season behaviour.
“He just said, ‘Munster, can I have a chat?’ and I knew straight away what it was about,” Munster said.
Smith wasn’t impressed that his club teammate had tarnished the reputation of the Maroons when he decided to break curfew.
“Cam is the Australian captain and the Queensland captain,” Munster said.
“He sat me down in the boardroom and chatted to me about how disappointed he was that I disrespected Queensland. I knew at the time when he was talking to me – he didn’t yell at me – but just his voice and what he was saying really got through to me and I knew that I stuffed up.
“He had a bit of a chat to some of the Queensland boys and mentioned how hard the Queensland boys had worked to get that respect in the group and built the legacy for the Maroons. The way that us young boys disrespected it was unacceptable. I really thought about it and I knew I stuffed up.”
Munster was one of eight Maroons – a group that included Holmes, Brisbane trio Ben Hunt, Anthony Milford and Jarrod Wallace, Roosters prop Dylan Napa, Penrith’s Chris Grevsmuhl and Canberra’s Edrick Lee – banned from playing Origin this year.
While Munster’s indiscretion triggered the need for Smith to sit down with his teammate, the Melbourne hooker went into the meeting with his Storm and Queensland hat on, reiterating his expectations for those who play under him.
“It’s never easy conversations to have with teammates, but that’s just what we’re about at this club and obviously at Queensland also,” Smith said.
“It’s about honesty and protecting what players have built over a long period of time. It was a little bit to do with Queensland – that chat I had with him. But it was also about the person I do see in him and the way I like to see players in my team behave. I thought it was the wrong thing what he did that time and I let him know about it.
“The good thing about him is he put his hand up and knew he had done the wrong thing. He took it really well. He was disappointed with himself with what happened. He’s only a young guy and from time to time you make mistakes. It was just the wrong decision at the time. He took the feedback really well and has had a wonderful year so far.” This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.