The Melbourne Storm have pulled off a $4 million recruitment coup in the NRL open market by retaining talent sought after by the Kangaroos and Queensland five-eighth Cameron Munster.
In a hammer blow to the NRL’s new team the Dolphins, Munster rejected a four-year, $5.6 million deal from the NRL’s 17th team, instead re-signing with the Waves for a further four seasons until the end of 2027.
The move comes after Storm chairman Matt Tripp negotiated months behind the scenes with the multi-millionaire Melbourne owner to convince Queensland and the Australian No.6 to remain a one-club player.
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The 28-year-old Munster man will be 33 in the final year of his new Storm deal and, with all luck, will remain in the Purple State for the rest of his career.
“I love the Melbourne Storm and I’m proud to commit to the club for another four years,” Munster said.
“The club has always supported me, even through some very difficult times, and I appreciate Trippy, Justin, Frank and Craig for giving me the time I needed to think about the decision with Bianca and my family.
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“It’s a very important decision for me, and ultimately Melbourne is where my heart is, Melbourne is where I want to play my footy, and Melbourne is the club I want to be a part of for the rest of my career.
“I always wanted to be a club player. The Hurricanes gave me the opportunity to play NRL and the club has been a second home to me since I made my debut.
“Bianca and I have family in Queensland but live in Melbourne, we have a great support network and look forward to raising our young family in the coming years.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this process and my career, especially Bianca, my son Jackson, my parents and my relatives. Thank you to my manager, Breit Anastam.
“And finally, thanks to the boys and everyone at the club we have an exciting time ahead.”
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Munster, widely regarded by many pundits as the NRL’s best player, took a $200,000 haircut on his existing Storm contract to $1.2 million when the new deal kicks in next season.
Munster’s new contract is worth $1 million per season from 2024 until the end of 2027.
“We know this is a big decision for Cameron and Bianca to make, especially with families in Queensland,” Tripp said.
“Cameron will always be Queensland, but we’re delighted he now calls Melbourne home.
“Cameron has grown a lot over the last 12 months on and off the pitch. He worked hard during the season to get himself in shape and prove to be one of the best players in the NRL competition this season, winning the player of the year award and the Delhi M Five Eight. Year in the NRL team of the year.
“Above all, Cameron has never been in a better place in his life, happy, healthy and living with his young family, and we are delighted that he has decided to stay with the Storm and become a club player.
“We are very fortunate to have a player like Cameron – a generational player – committed to our club and our city for another four years.”
The forward from Munster is still looking to win and win more premierships as his star five-eighth decision comes as a replacement for the NRL Grand Final.
Munster has two titles to his name but the Melbourne Storm’s spine includes Ryan Papenhuizen, Jarome Hughes, Harry Grant and the Queensland five-eighth and is likely to add more to his premiership.
The move is a major coup for the Hurricanes after the Dolphins made no secret of identifying Munster as the club’s priority target for 2024, with the NRL’s 17th team set to pay the five-eighth $1.4 million per season as the face of the new franchise.
With negotiations set to take place, Melbourne Storm have already begun contingency planning with Munster moving to the Dolphins and targeting alternative five-eighths.
First, the Hurricanes offered Munster a two-year extension for 2024 and 2025.
This has been broken down to a three-year discount until the end of 2026.
But Tripp had such a vested interest in the negotiations that he effectively sealed the deal, and was prepared to offer the Storm King a four-year, $4 million deal.