Cameron Munster has given more insight into what he describes as a moment of 'animosity' between himself and Dolphins coach Wayne Bennett in the wake of his decision to re-sign with the Melbourne Storm. The 28-year-old was a highly-prized target for the Storm's NRL rivals, but Munster ultimately took a slightly less lucrative offer to remain in Melbourne.
Bennett was left aggrieved in the wake of Munster spurning the monster offer the Dolphins tabled for him, claiming the star five-eighth didn't personally contact him to inform him of his decision. The veteran coach said Munster had 'gone missing' late in negotiations, only to learn he had signed with the Storm once again.
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Munster admitted during the Rugby League World Cup that he should have spoken to Bennett personally, but comments suggesting the Storm star hadn't 'been a man' appear to have stuck in his craw. Munster told Channel 7 he found Bennet's tirade in Triple M unnecessary, and had no plans to contact the 73-year-old in future.
The controversy could be the beginning of something of a rivalry between the Storm and the NRL newcomers, with Munster's teammate critical of advances made by the Dolphins prior to him actually being a free agent. Welch claimed the Dolphins showed a lack of respect both to the Storm and NRL rules by contacting Munster before November 1.
Still, it was Munster who was disppointed by how the entire situation had played out. “I felt like it was pretty disappointing (Bennett’s comments) and (there) probably was a little bit of animosity towards it so that’s one of the reasons why I haven’t decided to ring him,” Munster said.
“I just didn’t like the way they went about it and probably threw my name in the media — it was pretty disrespected — and saying I wasn’t man enough to ring him. I had every intention to but after those comments we felt like it was in our best interest to just leave it alone.”
Cameron Munster stands by decision not to inform Wayne Bennett of NRL decision
Bennett, the day after Munster's new deal with the Storm was announced late last year, was interviewed on Triple M where he eviscerated Munster's conduct. The Dolphins were under pressure to attract a high-profile free agent, missing on the trio of Munster, Latrell Mitchell and Kalyn Ponga.
"It's pretty ordinary stuff," Bennett said. "I understand about managers and all that and there is a need for him.
"But what I struggle with is the fact that the players, all the tough conversations that you have to have are missing. They don't ring you up and tell you they are not coming.
"That's a tough phone call none of us want to make. If you want to be a man then you've got to behave like one and (not) have your manager ring up and tell (us) you're not coming."
Several high-profile NRL reporters have since questioned whether Bennett is still the draw to players that he once was, questioning if the 72-year-old's 'aura' had diminished after taking the Dolphins job. With 23 players signed to the team for next year, the club needs to recruit a further seven to fill out their list - but the miss on Munster lead to Mitchell stating publicly he wasn't willing to be a 'second option' if the Dolphins didn't secure the Storm star.
Fox Sports commentator Andrew Voss told SEN missing out on Munster could be a telling sign of Bennett's fading allure in the NRL. “What does this say for the Dolphins and the aura of Wayne Bennett? Do you think Wayne Bennett has got anyone across the line where there was some kind of bidding war? My quick answer is no, he hasn’t," Voss said.
“The fact is, the aura of Wayne Bennett, it can’t be there because they haven’t won a bidding war… where Wayne Bennett was the deciding factor.”
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