Munster mentor says star will shine at No.1
THE man who first gave Cameron Munster a crack at fullback way back in his primary school playing days is expecting his star pupil to be at his "explosive" best in Wednesday night's State of Origin decider.
Long-time Berserker Street State School physical education teacher Darren Thornton has seen plenty of talented kids come through the school, few like Munster.
Penrith's Sid Domic is a product of the north Rockhampton primary school, as is former Maroon John Doyle and the Rothery brothers - who are Central Queensland royalty.
But Thornton said even aged 10, Munster had the rare ability to toy with defences, much like he does for the Melbourne Storm.
"I don't want to take credit but I did move him to fullback in his last year of school," Thornton said.
"He was doing similar things back then to what he does now. He loves the broken-field running, being able to identify the space in the defence.
"He played a lot of Touch Rugby League so he was great at hitting the ball at speed, exploding onto it. His footwork was electric too.
"We were always competitive, but we never won the comp. I still can't believe we didn't win anything."
Thornton said Munster was the obvious choice to move to fullback for Queensland after the position was made vacant with the injury to incumbent Kalyn Ponga.
"You only have to watch what he did when Billy (Slater) was out for the Storm, Munster was superb," he said.
"It's something he will revel in. He'll enjoy the freedom for sure. Just a matter whether the forwards can get a roll on. If they don't match it in the middle third we're in trouble."
Former CQ Capras captain and bench forward Tim Glasby said Munster still hasn't changed much, even if it catches the stern eye of coaching staff.
"He was just like he is now, such a larrakin who jokes around a lot," Glasby said.
Thornton said Munster is a product of hard-working, blue-collar parents who sacrificed plenty for both Cameron, and sister Danielle.
The siblings shone at everything; footy, cricket, netball, all backed to the tilt by parents Steven and Deborah.
"He was an outstanding cricketer, I think he could have gone on to a very high level," Thornton said.
"He competes to the death, just hates to lose. As loose as he is at times, once he pulls on that jersey, that's it. Danielle is the same.
"She was a hard head. She'd compete with the boys until high school. She would have beat him in the backyard until he hit puberty and grew stronger."
On Wednesday eight players from the CQ region will feature - Munster, Glasby, Ben Hunt, Dane Gagai, Corey Oates, Daly Cherry-Evans, Felise Kaufusi and Christian Welch, a testament to the pathway to the NRL.
Glasby moved away as a 17-year-old to play under-20s with Penrith, before returning to CQ while working as a financial planner.