Cameron Munster (c) is to have scans on the groin injury he aggravated on Sunday. Image by Jason O'BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS
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‘Massive blow’ – Munster’s Maroons teammates react

May 20, 2024

Cameron Munster’s groin injury looms as a “massive blow” to Queensland’s State of Origin hopes, says Melbourne and Maroons teammate Xavier Coates.

As the Storm consider whether their star five-eighth should undergo surgery, Tom Dearden and Ezra Mam have emerged as the likeliest replacement options for the series opener on June 5.

Munster aggravated the groin injury that has troubled him all season during the Storm’s 48-16 win over Parramatta at Magic Round, the five-eighth tearful on the bench later in Sunday’s game.

Tom Dearden
 Tom Dearden appears a safe replacement option if needed. Image by Jason O’BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS 

The Storm and Maroons will hold their breath as Munster undergoes scans on Monday and then make a plan for his rehabilitation.

If specialists tell the Storm their five-eighth will recover from surgery in time for the NRL finals, coach Craig Bellamy said the club would consider that option in a bid to rid Munster of the problem once-and-for-all.

That would rule Munster out of the entire Origin series but the 29-year-old will be given a say in the matter.

“If he’s capable of playing towards the end of the season (after having surgery) we may go that way,” Bellamy said.

“He’s got to have a say in it too. I had a chat with Billy Slater, (Maroons coach) the other day, at the end of the day, I’m not saying he can’t play Origin..

“I have never stopped anyone from Origin that wanted to play, for the sake of the club. That will be a decision for Cameron to make when we find out what the damage is and our plan to mend it.”

Munster has become a walk-up starter for the Maroons in recent years, his high-energy approach to the game gelling perfectly with the Origin arena.

He will forever be remembered for clinching the Wally Lewis Medal in 2020, the year the Maroons won the series with a team dubbed as Queensland’s “worst-ever” by some pundits.

“It’s a massive blow, to be fair,” Maroons winger Coates said of Munster’s injury.

“Whenever he’s put on the Maroons jersey, he’s done such a great job for Queensland.”

Despite North Queensland’s middling start to the year, Dearden appears the safest option to partner Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves at Accor Stadium if Munster is unavailable.

Dearden filled in for Munster when the five-eighth went down with COVID-19 ahead of game three in 2022, the only Origin match Munster has missed since making his Queensland debut in 2017.

Mam looks to be Dearden’s biggest challenger. The 21-year-old has announced himself at Brisbane since Dearden’s Origin debut, firming when he was their best player in the 2023 grand final loss and earning selection in the Maroons’ pre-season camp this year.

 Ezra Mam has risen rapidly in Origin selection calculations. Image by Jono Searle/AAP PHOTOS 

“Ezra Mam, Tommy Dearden, those boys are freaks,” Coates said.

“If Munny’s fit to go, it’d be good to see him in the Maroons jersey, but if not, I think those boys are really pushing for that spot there,” 

Four-time Maroons centre Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow backed either Mam or Dearden to impress on the big stage.

“Whoever Billy picks I think will be pretty sweet,” he said.