Munster strengthens case for Maroons No.6 jersey
Melbourne Storm five-eighth Cameron Munster has made a huge statement for his selection as five-eighth in the Queensland State of Origin side for the first game of the series.
Days before the team is announced, Munster added another reference to an impressive file that includes one of the best Origin debuts in history.
He sealed the win against a desperate Cowboys with a clutch field goal in the dying minutes of Friday night's clash in Townsville, prompting Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy to declare he was "the difference" in the Storm's dour 7-6 victory.
"The thing I was really impressed with was how he finished off the last few minutes, getting some kicks over the sideline," Bellamy said.
"I thought he was probably the difference and I'm really happy with the way he's going."
Munster himself gave a more modest assessment of his chances, and didn't want to be too confident with the likes of Ben Hunt and Michael Morgan also in the running for a spot.
"If I get selected I'll try and do my best for Queensland and play my role, but until then I'll just relax and put my feet up," Munster said.
The young Queenslander did give himself one pat on the back, saying that he had improved his ability to control a game with the departure of Cooper Cronk.
"[Cronk] was a big talker for us, and I've taken a little bit more of an ownership this year," Munster said.
"I've only played 50 plus games so I need to get a bit more experience, but in saying that I thought my game management tonight was pretty good."
While his debut as a part of an all-Melbourne Storm spine in Origin III last year was one he'll never forget, it will be a new experience playing in the maroon jersey without Smith or Cronk alongside him.
"Smithy going, he's a big part of that Queensland side so he's going to be dearly missed, but like Smith said there's a new breed coming through," he said.
"Michael Morgan, Ben Hunt has been one of the form players of the competition, Andrew McCullough does 50 plus tackles for the Broncos and Jake Granville has been playing some pretty good football as well."
Smith himself is looking forward to watching this new breed of Queenslanders from the stands, confident they'll get the job done.
"I'm excited about just sitting back and watching the Origin, I'm excited about seeing the two teams being announced and seeing some young guys get some opportunities," Smith said.
"To see these young guys that have been waiting for an opportunity for a long time, they get to show everyone what they're made of and to try and carry on the legacy that a lot of players have provided Queensland rugby league for the last 10 or 12 years.
"I'll be there in Melbourne with my maroon on, cheering the boys on as a fan and I'm actually really excited about that."