Melbourne nearly sacked Munster but chairman wants him at Storm for life

Melbourne chairman Matt Tripp has revealed how close the club’s board came to sacking Cameron Munster – who he warned should not be tempted to become the face of Brisbane’s second franchise because he risks being “treated like a rockstar” in his home state.

As Munster starts a four-week program at a rehabilitation facility for alcohol abuse, Tripp told the Herald the five-eighth nearly had his contract shredded over the ‘white substance’ video scandal.

The Melbourne Storm wanted to sack Cameron Munster over the white substance video.Credit:Getty, NRL Images

On top of the one-match ban and $30,000 fine Munster received from the NRL, the Storm hit Munster with a suspended $100,000 fine, ordered him to stop drinking for a year and supported his stint in rehabilitation.

Tripp, who has grown close with Munster over the years, said the best thing for the star five eighth – both personally and professionally – would be to remain in Melbourne and avoid a return home at all costs.

The Storm boss said Munster’s second straight season in Queensland due to the Storm’s relocation meant he was removed from his normal network, while there was also the spotlight and pressure of having to play up to his scallywag reputation for the local fans.

“There is a personal relationship as well as a professional one with Cameron, and I’ve really taken it to heart what has happened in the last week or two. It’s actually hurt me,” Tripp said.

Cameron Munster makes a statement on the Melbourne Storm’s zoom call earlier this week.

“I know what a good bloke he is. I also know if you take the blinkers off he can stray.

“The board came close to terminating his contract, but the same board are fully united in wanting to help turn his life around and make him a long-term Melbourne Storm player. I know he will repay the faith. I’m confident of that. And so are the board.”

Munster is seen as the No. 1 target for the second Brisbane franchise who will enter the competition in 2023. Off contract at the end of the 2023 season with Melbourne, Munster himself has said he would entertain a return home.

Melbourne Storm chairman Matt Tripp. Credit:Arsineh Houspian

But Tripp said the latest incident proved why Munster was best served remaining with the Storm.

“By returning home to Melbourne, he will be back in the environment where he thrives best and where he has played his best footy,” Tripp said. “When Cameron is back home he has structure in his life.

“When he’s been in Queensland, the spotlight is always on you, especially with a player with the profile he has.

“There is a lot less of that down here, and he benefits from that routine of going to training and going home. He’s also got a baby on the way, which will be a real positive for him – it will be the most positive thing to happen in his life.

“By abstaining from drinking 12 months, completing rehab, being back in Melbourne, his home town, and having a big pre-season, we will see the old Cameron Munster back.

“He’s often told me he wants to finish his career in Melbourne. I’ve said to him the best place to see out his career is the Melbourne Storm.”

Munster, Brandon Smith and Chris Lewis, who all appeared in a video partying in a hotel room with what appeared to be a white substance, were punished at the start of the week, with many fans complaining the one-match ban was too light.

“I find it bizarre people have said the penalty is too light – I don’t think there has been a penalty imposed like it for many years,” Tripp said.

“There isn’t a bigger penalty when you consider what we’re suggesting to these guys, well certainly Cameron, that there’s a strong chance his contract will be torn up if he steps out of line again. That’s as serious as it gets.

“They were done for bringing the game into disrepute. We can all speculate about what was on that table [in the video]. But we could only deal with the evidence in front of us. Their word was good enough for the NRL and their word was good enough for the club. They’ve been penalised accordingly.”

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