Storm coach Craig Bellamy reveals he didn’t think Cameron Munster could give up the booze – and the telltale sign that convinced him the star is fine with being off the drink
- Munster infamously showed up to 2020 Origin camp feeling the effects of booze
- He turned in a player of the series performance to clinch a memorable win
- However it masked the problem and now Munster has quit the drink since 2022
- Bellamy says he knows Munster will not relapse because of one key reason
It was only two years ago that Cameron Munster built up the bravado after a few drinks to ask then-Queensland coach Wayne Bennett for an extra 24 hours to show up at Origin camp.
Bennett hung up on him. Munster, fuelled by the drink after celebrating the Melbourne Storm’s NRL premiership win, called him again: ‘I’m serious,’ he declared. Bennett hung up again.
It is a phone exchange etched into folklore as a dusty and hungover Munster begrudgingly left the Byron Bay party and reported for Maroons duty. He would go on to tear New South Wales apart in one of the greatest underdog performances of all time.
Maroons legend Johnthan Thurston enjoys a cold one with Munster prior to the booze ban
But that is not who Cameron Munster is anymore. Not since the white powder scandal with teammates Brandon Smith and Chris Lewis in late 2022.
The incident exposed the fact Munster was battling with alcohol and gambling addictions that were tearing his life apart.
So when he was told to report to rehab, he did so with a commitment to improve himself – for his family’s sake.
Bellamy is confident that Munster is not going to turn back because his star player never ‘bullshits’ him
Munster has not touched a drop since and when he tells club coach Craig Bellamy he has no desire to do so, the Storm coach knows he is serious because despite all his past flaws, Munster has never been one to lie to his mentor.
‘He tells me, and he doesn’t usually bullshit to me, that he’s not missing alcohol,’ Bellamy told The Sydney Morning Herald.
‘If someone had said three years ago that he wouldn’t be missing it, I wouldn’t have believed them.
‘When we’ve had a few beers after Storm games, or the next day when we get together, it’s the normal Cameron but without a beer in his hand, just a soft drink.
‘He’s not bullshitting me. He’s very OK with not having a drink.
‘I’m real proud of him. Early into the year, I might have been sceptical about him keeping it up. But now I’d be surprised if he had a relapse.’
Even after Origin I this year, when the rest of the Maroons were tucking into the sponsor’s product, Munster politely declined when no one would have minded him enjoying a tin or two to savour the win.
‘It has been easy, it doesn’t faze me to have beers any more,’ Munster told AAP.
‘I haven’t had an urge or feel like I am missing out on anything. I can still enjoy my life and have a good time without having a beer.
‘Everyone is really good about it. When Alf [Allan Langer] gets a couple of drinks into him, he wants his little buddy back. But everyone has been supportive.’
Munster celebrates with team mates after winning Game 3 of the 2020 State of Origin series
Munster added that staying off the drink had brought a new clarity that was making him a better player.
‘Not drinking, being fitter (means I’m) a little more present in games and training,’ he said.
‘Giving a lot more to the younger boys coming through, a bit more guidance, I’ve been getting a lot more kicks out of that.’
Munster takes a selfie with fans after game one of the 2022 State of Origin series
But ultimately, it comes back to his family. When Munster looked at himself in the mirror last year he knew change was essential for the sake of his partner Bianca and son Jackson.
‘He didn’t have to do this for his footy,’ Bellamy said.
‘He was still going to be playing first grade and there would’ve been people wanting him to play in their team somewhere.
‘But he’s got other reasons to stay off the grog – because he’s got more to lose than footy.’