Munster, Maroons move on from 'big three'

Murray Wenzel
·2-min read

Cameron Munster will toast "one of his best years in one of the worst years", confident he has proved himself after leading a Queensland team without the "big three" to an unlikely State of Origin series win on Wednesday.

The Melbourne Storm five-eighth was man of the match in the Maroons' 20-14 upset of New South Wales at a packed Suncorp Stadium, adding a Wally Lewis Medal for man of the series to his premiership with Melbourne last month.

Queensland's first series win since 2017 came against the odds and without any of Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith.

This time it was Munster who, after missing most of game two with a concussion, stepped up with a brilliant try assist to lead a side that blooded 14 debutants to an unlikely Queensland victory.

Munster also starred on debut in that 2017 decider - Smith's Origin farewell - but said Wednesday's victory was different.

"For so many years with that big three, there's always question marks about whether I was up for the big games and moments when the big three left," he said.

"I don't play for those accolades, I just want to be consistent and I felt like this was one of my best years I've had in one of the worst years we've had in the world.

"It's been tough, in isolation or a bubble for seven months (with the Storm based on the Sunshine Coast).

"It's time to celebrate, let my hair down and go missing for a couple of weeks."

Before and during the series, the Queensland team, missing a host of big names through injury and retirement, were described in southern media as the worst in 40 years.

"We're always the underdogs, always the backs against the wall," he said of the criticism.

"We're just knockabout blokes wanting to do our best for our state and it couldn't have happened any better than at Suncorp with our fans behind us."

Munster said it wasn't those sledges posted on the dressing room wall for motivation, rather a photo of their 2017 winning team.

"Wayne (Bennett) just said, 'do you want to be those blokes in the photo there, or do you want to the guys that are going to sit around and wish?'," Munster said.

Urged by coach Wayne Bennett to back his instinct and attack the line more, Munster ensured they fell into the first category.

"I find when I run the ball a lot of things tends to happen around me," he said.

"That (try assist) was just one of those moments where I got lucky. Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don't."