Billy’s Blues warning: fear the Munster
FORMER Queensland fullback Billy Slater has warned the Blues to prepare for a Munster masterclass when he will be unleashed in the Maroons No.1 jersey for the first time in his career.
Munster has been given the chance to live out his childhood dream of being Queensland's fullback after Origin star Kalyn Ponga was ruled out with a calf injury a week ago.
The Storm five-eighth has recruited the services of Slater in Camp Maroon to give himself the best shot at becoming Queensland's No.1 man.
The Rockhampton junior began his NRL career as a specialist fullback and was groomed by Storm coach Craig Bellamy to be Billy Slater's replacement in his early days.
But Munster has not played fullback since 2017 - when he replaced an injured Slater as Melbourne's No.1.
Slater said he believed Munster was at his most dangerous in the fullback jersey.
"Fullback is his most dangerous position and this is the first chance he gets to play there at Origin level," Slater said.
"He is our biggest weapon and he'll get more opportunities in the No.1 jersey"
Far from being an emergency option, Munster has been craving the Queensland fullback position for years.
And when he got his heart's desire his jubilant tone confirmed to coach Kevin Walters he and the selectors had made the right call.
Munster played fullback earlier in his career but his ambition to return there was short circuited by the immovable presence of immortal-in-waiting Slater.
But Ponga's injury opened a door which Munster felt like kicking off its hinges.
Walters has backed the 24-year-old to step up to another level in one of the biggest Origin clashes in recent history.
"When I rang him and told him I could sense the elation in his voice,'' Walters said.
"He said some years ago he always wanted to play fullback for Queensland. "Well, now he has his opportunity and we know he will do a great job for us back there.
"The idea is to bring him into the game. he has not played there for some time but that does not bother us.
"He is a natural footballer and he reads the game very well. He's been working hard all week on the little aspects of fullback play and we're really happy where he is at.
"After consulting with selectors Darren Lockyer, Billy Slater, Gene Miles and myself it was a unanimous decision to put him back there.''
Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans has noted the enthusiasm Munster has for his new role after switching from five-eighth.
"He's been great this week. He knows what he is doing. He is a smart footballer. While he has a very relaxed attitude away from rugby league when he crosses that line he knows what is going on. It did not take much for him to slot back into the No 1 jersey and look quite at home. He has trained well this week and has given the people around him a lot of confidence.''