Munster: Berserker St to the big time

Munster: Berserker St to the big time

For a young man who attacks the game with frantic abandon it is perhaps no surprise that Cameron Munster's path towards Queensland Origin selection first began at a Rockhampton school by the name of Berserker Street.

That's where Guy Williams first came into contact with the skinny yet cocky little upstart who from his formative years in the game through until his Origin elevation has been unafraid to challenge authority.

Prior to joining the Brisbane Broncos in 2009, Williams was working at the Rockhampton PCYC and in 2005 was called in to coach the Berserker Street State School under-11s, soon discovering their best player was a kid called Cameron Munster.

Seven years later after stints with the Broncos and in France Williams returned to the Central Queensland Capras at the end of 2012 and discovered that Munster had developed to the point where at 17 years of age he had been called into the Capras' senior squad.

"My younger brother Brent was playing for the Capras at the time and I remember going to training and saying to him, 'What's Munster doing here?'" Williams tells NRL.com.

"And he told me that he'd been killing it for Norths in the local league. It really surprised me but once we started training you could see that there was just something about him.

"He started out in the 18s then the 20s and then A Grade and he was braining them.

"He played one or two games for us at the end of the year and played really well and that was it."

Where Guy was introduced to a pre-pubescent Munster, Brent Williams didn't lay eyes on the blonde with the fast feet until the Capras ventured to Gladstone for an Intrust Super Cup game midway through the 2012 season and he caught some of the under-18s clash.

Coming off the bench to play five-eighth, Munster quickly gave Brent an indication that he was destined for greater heights and he wasted no time encouraging then Capras coach John Harbin to bring him into the senior squad.

Eager to foster local talent, Harbin agreed, although it came with a stipulation.

"John got him to training but he said that if I wanted him there I had to look after him," Brent recalls.

"He was a bit of a loose cannon – young and full of himself – and I got a phone call at work one day from Cameron asking me for John's number saying that he wasn't going to be able to make it to training.

"He told me that he had his mixed touch footy semi-final and that the team was relying on him to play.

"At this stage he was on the verge of playing Q Cup so I told him that John probably wouldn't like him missing training to play his mixed touch footy semi-final.

"I told him he needed a better reason than that to miss training and he said that on the weekend he had really hurt his ankle playing for Norths. Then I pointed out that he was going to miss training with a sore ankle but still play touch footy and how that might look.

"He ended up telling John that he'd hurt his ankle and wouldn't be able to make it to training but it didn't stop him from playing in his mixed touch semi-final."

Munster has been pushing coaches' buttons ever since, starting with Jason Hetherington at the Capras in 2013 and carrying it through all the way to highly emotive Storm coach Craig Bellamy, teammates unsure whether to cringe or laugh as he and Bellamy trade barbs on the training park.

"Cameron was training and being mouthy – he'd never even met Jason before – and he was giving him crap and Jason pulled me aside and said, 'Who is this bloke? What's his deal?'" Brent Williams says of his first pre-season with the senior team ahead of the 2013 season.

"And I said to him, 'Jason, he's probably our best player.'

"He was full of himself but he had the ability to back up his talk with what he did on the field. He could just do things that no one else could do."

Adds Guy Williams: "He had a bit of cheek in him – he still does – but he's a really nice kid.

"He always comes down to the Touch Rugby League when he comes home and he's from a good family, a really nice family actually.

"You could tell from those early days that there was something really special about him.

"As a kid he was a really talented little player and his first couple of seasons with the Capras you could see there was something special about him."

And whether it is at centre or five-eighth next Wednesday night Munster has been entrusted with the Maroons' Origin legacy and by his selection alone the belief of three of Queensland's greats that he can handle the occasion.

"Every time he's got the footy in his hands he's dangerous," said Maroons selector Gene Miles on Monday.

"All we really want him to do is play footy for us.

"He won't have too much responsibility out there, just make his tackles and do all that stuff he's been doing over the last 16 weeks."

"He's a natural footballer," said Maroons coach Kevin Walters. "He reminds me a lot of young kids coming into grade and they just play.

"I know it's a big occasion for him but knowing Cameron and his mindset he'll be ready to go when Wednesday week comes around."