Cameron Munster had already made a name for himself before the 2020 State of Origin series, but after those three games, he wrote himself into Maroon folklore for eternity.
The Rockhampton native won the NRL premiership with Melbourne Storm in a gritty 26-20 victory over the Penrith Panthers in October last year.
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As part of the post-premiership celebrations, Munster earned a cult hero status for his exploits that were shared on social media, all the while knowing that Game I of Origin was looming in just under two weeks from the day of the Grand Final.
But what exactly kicked the 26-year-old into gear after his boozy celebrations to produce a man of the series performance?
Matty Johns revealed the secrets on a special State of Origin preview episode of his podcast, uncovering how former Maroons coach Wayne Bennett managed to get the five-eighth’s head screwed on when Queensland needed it most.
Munster became a cult hero for his post-premiership celebrations in 2020.Source:Getty Images
“Let’s go back to last series,” Johns said.
“Cameron Munster wins the grand final. He has two or three days on the sauce, rings Mal Meninga to say, ‘Can I stay another day on the drink?’ And they say, ‘Come on you’ve got to get into camp’. He literally played game one last year with a hangover and won man of the match.
“Game two he misses and they lose. He goes into game three and he’s under an injury cloud.”
Queensland were ahead 12-6 at halftime in the decider, but Johns said the feeling was that the Maroons were “struggling” and in need of Munster magic.
“What’s interesting about this game is they tell me Queensland was struggling up to halftime and apparently Munster was looking to shovel the ball sideways,” he added.
“Apparently Wayne got him into the sheds and said, ‘For f***s sake run the football’. Second half he runs the football, they win and he gets man of the series.”
Wayne Bennett achieved the unthinkable by winning State of Origin last year.Source:Getty Images
Johns believes Munster is essential to any chance of the Maroons maintaining the shield.
“For Queensland, to lose Cameron Munster would be even more devastating to Queensland than Cleary for New South Wales,” Johns said.
“Queensland always have that player who inspires and is the heartbeat of the side. In the first 10 years or so it was Wally Lewis then you go into the Alfie and Lockyer age. These days it is Munster. (He) gives everyone around him confidence.”
There had been talk about a gentlemen’s agreement between the two sides to ensure no players would take a dive to milk a penalty, but all will be revealed upon the very first hit-up of the evening as to whether that agreement is truly in place.
What time does the game start?
How can I watch the game?
You can watch Game 1 live on Channel 9, or live stream it via the network’s online platform 9Now.
Kayo will have pre-game coverage from 6pm (AEST) as well as post-game analysis.
A replay of the game will be available on Kayo 30 minutes after the game has ended with no ad breaks.
If you can’t catch the action, news.com.au will be running a live blog of the game and with all the best reaction, analysis and talking points so you can stay up to date.
Where is the game being played?
Game 1 is being played at Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville.
With a smaller capacity of 25,000, it will certainly provide a different atmosphere than usually seen at State of Origin matches.
Game 1 was originally scheduled to be played on neutral territory at the MCG but was moved to Townsville due to the Covid-19 outbreak in Melbourne.
Game 2 will be played at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, meaning the Blues will have to win at least one of the first two games in Queensland to stay alive in the series.
What is the weather forecast?
It will be a mostly sunny day in Townsville on Wednesday, with a top of 26C predicted and dry conditions expected for the game.
What are the betting odds?
In the head-to-head market, the Blue are clear favourites, paying $1.50 for the win with TAB, while Queensland is at $2.60.
NSW halfback Nathan Cleary is the bookies’ favourite for Player of the Match at $5.50.
Teams for game 1
NSW Blues: 1. James Tedesco 2. Brian To’o 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Tom Trbojevic 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Damien Cook 10. Jake Trbojevic 11. Cameron Murray 12. Tariq Sims 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Jack Wighton 15. Junior Paulo 16. Payne Haas 17. Liam Martin 18. Api Koroisau 19. Campbell Graham
Coach: Brad Fittler
QLD Maroons: 1. Valentine Holmes 2. Xavier Coates 3. Kurt Capewell 4. Dane Gagai 5. Kyle Feldt 6. Cameron Munster 7. Daly Cherry-Evans 8. Christian Welch 9. Harry Grant 10. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 11. Felise Kaufusi 12. David Fifita 13. Jai Arrow 14. AJ Brimson 15. Jaydn Su’A 16. Moeaki Fotuaika 17. Joe Ofahengaue 18. Coen Hess 19. Ben Hunt
Coach: Paul Green
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