SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES - SEPTEMBER 30: Cameron Munster of the Storm is sent to the sin-bin during the 2018 NRL Grand Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES - SEPTEMBER 30: Cameron Munster of the Storm is sent to the sin-bin during the 2018 NRL Grand Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Threats, abuse and grand final hell

Cameron Munster has opened up on his grand-final hell and has vowed not to succumb to another brain explosion as he sets his sights on winning the Clive Churchill Medal in Sunday night's NRL decider.

The Storm five-eighth will return to the scene of one of the darkest chapters of his rugby league career when he confronts the Panthers in the NRL grand final at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.

In the Storm's last trip to the big dance in 2018, Munster lost the plot, sin-binned twice, including a stray kick on Roosters rival Joseph Manu which he labelled a "grub act" in the final minutes of Melbourne's 21-6 defeat.

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Cameron Munster of the Storm is sent to the sin bin during the 2018 NRL grand final.
Cameron Munster of the Storm is sent to the sin bin during the 2018 NRL grand final.

In the wake of his big-game meltdown, Munster was subjected to personal threats, including abuse in the street from rugby league fans.

Just days after the 2018 grand-final, Munster went into a mental spiral after learning a former teammate from his pre-NRL footballing years at the Central Capras, Reggie Saunders, had taken his life.

With the help of Melbourne's psychologist, Munster worked through a number of issues, including a problem with alcohol, and has matured to the point where he was added to the Storm's leadership group this season.

The Queensland Origin star will be Melbourne's senior scrumbase shot-caller in the decider and Munster insists he will not be provoked by Penrith into another brain snap on the biggest night of the season.

"There are going to be a lot of keyboard warriors and a lot of people trying to bring up that moment for ages," Munster said of his 2018 grand-final nightmare.

"But it doesn't faze me too much.

Munster copped personal threats from fans in the wake of his grand-final nightmare.
Munster copped personal threats from fans in the wake of his grand-final nightmare.

"It wasn't a great moment for myself or my family. I had fans and members of the general public abusing me and just giving it to me.

"But I have moved on. Everyone makes mistakes, the only way I can make amends for what happened in 2018 is go out and try to play the best footy I can and prove to everyone that I can play on the big stage."

Four Storm players have previously won the Clive Churchill Medal - Brett Kimmorley (1999), Greg Inglis (2007), Cooper Cronk (2012) and Billy Slater, who was man-of-the-match twice in the 2009 and 2017 grand finals.

Now Munster wants to be added to the list as he prepares for a critical playmaking duel with Penrith sensation Jerome Luai, who shares the Storm pivot's flamboyant, instinctive style.

"Winning one premiership (in 2017) was the biggest moment for me," Munster said.

"The next thing I'd really like to do is play well this Sunday and show everyone I can play well on the big stage again.

Munster has plenty of respect for his opposite number of Sunday, Jarome Luai.
Munster has plenty of respect for his opposite number of Sunday, Jarome Luai.

"I wouldn't mind having the 'Clivey' (Churchill Medal) on my shoulders. I'm not being selfish. I want to play the best for my team on Sunday.

"Luai has got a lot of confidence, a lot of skill, I like the way he plays.

"I want to just get in the game a lot earlier, run the ball more. Be aggressive with the ball.

"When I do run the ball hard and aggressive I'm very hard to handle.

"Knowing when I do run the ball, things happen for me, so it's about getting my hands on the ball and just controlling the game."

Broncos premiership-winning five-eighth legend Darren Lockyer backed Munster to atone for his 2018 display against the Panthers.

Cameron Munster is hoping 2020 ends better than 2018 did.
Cameron Munster is hoping 2020 ends better than 2018 did.

"Cam has matured a lot since his last grand final," Lockyer said.

"He has been put in the leadership group and the responsibility has been good for him. You can tell he is playing with a cooler head this season.

"The last time Munster played in a grand final, the Storm were without Cooper Cronk, who was at the Roosters. He's had to take more ownership of the backline in the past two years and I really feel that responsibility has been good for Cam.

"Munster was a bit timid last week coming back from his knee injury but he won't lose his cool this time.

"His big-game experience over Luai will be crucial."



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