Munster puts early pressure on Cronk
Cameron Munster hasn't wasted any time heaping on pressure on ex-Storm teammate Cooper Cronk, declaring the Sydney Roosters premiership favourites following the acquisition of the Australian halfback.
Munster, who will make his Test debut from the bench in Friday night's World Cup game against France, believes the Roosters now have to live with the tag of title favourites given the arrival of Cronk and James Tedesco in 2018.
The Storm will be looking to become the first team to win back-to-back titles in a quarter of a century, but the departure of Cronk to the Roosters has made that challenge a far more difficult proposition.
"They'll be a force to be reckoned with, I don't doubt that at all," Munster said.
"They had a pretty good side this year as well. I guess adding Cooper to your roster is something they're very excited about. It will be interesting to see what they do. They've got a great side… I reckon they'll be the favourites for next year and hopefully we can put that tag on them already."
The Storm have had the "big three" of Cronk, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith at their disposal for almost 15 years, but now, as Munster says, it's down to the 'big two'.
Having made his State of Origin debut this year and now on the verge of playing his first Test, Munster has been earmarked by the Storm as the leader of generation next.
While he doesn't believe he's the newest member of the big three, he is aware of the added expectation on his shoulders given his scrumbase partner in crime is no longer at the club.
"I have a little bit more of an ownership and leadership role to be honest, just trying to help out the young blokes coming through [whether] it's Ryley Jacks, Billy Walters or if it's Brodie Croft," Munster said.
"With Cooper gone it's a big hole and he will be sadly missed. But I know the club needs to move on and find the new No.7. If that's Brodie Croft, then he's been playing some pretty good football the past couple of years in Queensland Cup and played some good football for us too.
"It's exciting. But I know I need to step up and play a controlling role in the game and see how I go with the pressure and if I can hopefully lead the Storm to back-to-back [premierships]."
Munster enjoyed his breakout year in 2016, but there was uncertainty over his ability to dominate a game given he was making the transition from fullback to five-eighth to accommodate the return of Slater from injury.
His five-star showing for Queensland in the decider put his name up in lights and gave the 23-year-old the confidence to believe he belonged on the big stage.
"That was one of the best games I've ever played when I wore the Queensland jersey," Munster said.
"It's good to know that I can play at that level. I just need to be more consistent at that kind of thing. I have a lot to improve on but in saying that I'm pretty happy about how I went at six this year.
"Hopefully I can get more strings to my bow. Things like my kicking game. And obviously with Cooper gone, Smithy probably has to take more of a kicking role so I'm going to have to take pressure off him and start kicking as well. That's something I have to practise on a little bit more in the pre-season."