‘It’s still an open wound’: Munster, Bennett haven’t spoken since huge contract call
Melbourne Storm star Cameron Munster has opened up on his frosty relationship with Wayne Bennett, revealing he has yet to speak to the super coach since Bennett condemned him for not personally rejecting a lucrative offer to join him at the Dolphins.
The 28-year-old Munster was the talk of the NRL for much of 2022 as he mulled over whether to remain with the Storm or become the face of the Redcliffe-based expansion NRL club, with Munster eventually choosing to sign a five-year extension with Melbourne.
In the aftermath, Bennett hit out at Munster for not calling him personally to inform him of his decision, with his manager doing it instead.
In an exclusive interview with Storm legend Billy Slater for Nine’s Sunday Footy Show, The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald, Munster revealed he and Bennett still hadn’t spoken since he re-signed with the Storm last October.
In a wide-ranging interview, Munster also elaborated on the call to turn down the huge money on offer from the Dolphins, which would have made him the highest-paid figure in the game, and his relationship with AFL great Joel Selwood.
The Storm open the 2023 NRL season against Parramatta Eels at CommBank Stadium on Thursday night.
Cameron Munster and Wayne Bennett have not spoken since Munster re-signed with Storm.Credit:Getty Images
“I haven’t really spoken to him yet. It’s still an open wound, still fresh for not only him but the Dolphins in general,” Munster told Slater.
“I’m sure they will beat it up in whatever round we have the Dolphins this year.
“It was a decision I made. I will stand by it. No regrets whatsoever.
“It would have been nice to be a foundation player, but it is something I have to live with, I will do that and [I knew] whatever team I play for I will do everything I can to make it a good one.”
“The money that was being thrown around, I don’t think I will ever make that money ever again.”
Munster also acknowledged that he will never receive an offer as lucrative as the one from the Dolphins but chose to stay with the stronger Storm line-up and continue to enjoy the anonymity he has in an AFL-dominated city.
Having half-back Jahrome Hughes, full-back Ryan Papenhuyzen and hooker Harry Grant all locked in for upcoming seasons was also a factor.
“It’s hard for my family,” Munster said. “The money that was being thrown around, I don’t think I will ever make that money ever again.
“I spoke to our spine, Hughsey, Harry and Paps – with the talent pool we had, I thought it would be beneficial for myself.
“Hopefully, we can bring the next generation of your kids through and make the next five years really enjoyable.”
Munster, who teamed up with Bennett to lead Queensland to a shock State of Origin win in 2020, would have loved to join the seven-time premiership winner at the Dolphins, but equally, he wanted to stay at the club which gave him his NRL start.
He knows his decision, and the arrival of long-time Storm stars Jesse Bromwich, Felise Kaufusi and Kenny Bromwich at Redcliffe, means there will be a fierce rivalry between the two clubs starting with their first clash on May 20.
“He probably has it circled before the Arthur Beetson game – it’s going to be a great rivalry,” Munster said.
“There are a few old teammates at Redcliffe, and I’m sure they will do everything that they can to get the wood over us.”
Storm coach Craig Bellamy also spoke to Munster late in the season to allay any fears he had about the transition at the club when Bellamy finishes as coach.
“Bellyache came up to me last year when we were playing the Broncos at Suncorp Stadium and told me he honestly wouldn’t be going on next year  as a coach, he would be more of a mentor,” Munster said.
Joel Selwood has struck up a rapport with Munster.Credit:Getty Images
“But knowing he will still be around the club was something that satisfied me.”
Munster has stepped into a leadership role this season, and he has already formed a positive relationship with retired Geelong premiership captain Selwood who is the Storm’s new leadership coach.
“I love my footy. I want to get the best out of myself,” Munster said. “I have that carefree attitude around the group but behind closed doors I definitely want to be better as a player and teammate.
“I’m a really competitive person and I hate losing. I’m fortunate that I have Joel Selwood around the club now to try and make me a better loser as I hold on to it for a long time.
“I’ve been lucky enough to win a lot of games and haven’t had that feeling of losing much but I have lost some big games and I kick myself with my performances but, sometimes, it’s not your day and I’m starting to realise that.”
The NRL Premiership starts on Thursday night. Watch Eels v Storm live and free on Nine or 9Now.
Watch Billy Slater’s interview with Cameron Munster in full on the NRL Sunday Footy Show.
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