Blues great behind Munster's rapid rise
One of New South Wales' favourite sons could have conspired against his own state winning this year's Holden State of Origin Series with Maroons debutant Cameron Munster revealing he worked with Matthew Johns in pre-season in order to become an elite playmaker.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters has not yet announced whether it will be Munster or Michael Morgan who partners Cooper Cronk in the halves for next Wednesday's decider at Suncorp Stadium but Munster has some influential support in the form of his club captain and Queensland skipper Cameron Smith.
Smith has become an invaluable sounding board for Walters throughout a series in which they have blooded eight rookies and with six Melbourne Storm players to line up for Queensland next week it is clear that his influence is telling.
"I'd probably lean towards Munster being six, just given it's his debut game and it's a decider," Smith said on Tuesday.
"The easiest transition for him into this team would be at six given he's played all season there and plays alongside 'Coops' (Cooper Cronk), Bill (Slater) and myself.
"It's always nice to have your club teammates involved.
"You understand what they're going to bring to the team and what they're going to do game night.
"If Munster plays six it's our entire spine.
"We understand each other's games quite closely."
The other ace up Munster's sleeve is the grounding he has been given in five-eighth play by Johns, the same man who transformed Cooper Cronk from a handy utility into the game's premier No.7 in the space of one season.
Unable to force his way into the Storm 17 in his first season with the club in 2014, Munster reverted to his preferred position at fullback when Billy Slater injured his shoulder in 2015 and spent the entire 2016 season there also.
So when Blake Green left the club and coach Craig Bellamy needed to manufacture a new No.6 he once again turned to Johns and asked him to work his magic on Munster.
"Our assistant coach Adam O'Brien has helped me out heaps doing some little drills at training but also Matty Johns has come in and helped us out as well," said the 22-year-old Rockhampton product.
"I went to Sydney a couple of times during pre-season and worked on some fundamentals and that's what shaped me at the start of the year.
"Cooper did it when he first started at halfback and the club thought it would be the right direction to go back and see what he could do for me and what I could do a little bit better.
"I went there and did some drills with him and felt like it's made my game a lot better.
"I still talk to him. It's the little things of people turning in, people turning out, that kind of stuff. I felt like I was making the game a lot harder than what it really is. It's a really simple game if you stick to your game plan.
"The stuff that he's taught me is working really well at the moment and just got to keep learning and keep progressing."
Growing up idolising another Queenslander who made the transition from fullback to five-eighth in Darren Lockyer, Munster knows that he can't really prepare for what's to come next Wednesday but believes being surrounded by Storm teammates will assist in his elevation to the Origin arena.
"I obviously play club level with 'Smithy', Slater and 'Coops' and if that's the way that Kevvie wants to go then I'm more than happy to play that position," Munster said of taking on the famous Queensland No.6 jersey.
"I know it's a big step for me playing in a decider but in saying that if he picks me I'll try and do my best to play there.
"I don't know how I'm going to prepare for it to be quite honest. It's just a matter of experiencing and hopefully getting out there and doing my job a lot better than I'm thinking at the moment.
"I'm excited and really looking forward to the challenge on Wednesday. I know it's a big task for me and some of us young boys coming up but I'm really looking forward to the challenge."