Melbourne can’t afford to lose Munster too. (Graham Denholm/Getty Images)
Melbourne can’t afford to lose Munster too. (Graham Denholm/Getty Images)

Munster puts contract talks on hold

CAMERON Munster has suspended contract talks with Melbourne Storm until the end of the season.

The playmaker wants to focus on the finals and Melbourne's tilt at back-to-back titles.

But the Storm, however, are confident a deal will get done in the off-season.

Munster, 23, both personally and through his agent, has spoken to senior club officials about his intention and willingness to stay in Melbourne beyond next season.

Munster is contracted next season, but NRL rivals can start laying the ground work for a high stakes poaching raid in November.

Storm football director Frank Ponissi welcomed Munster's commitment to the finals.

"We're very confident of keeping Cameron at the club beyond 2019," Ponissi said.

"He's indicated his strong preference is to remain with Storm and obviously given his importance to the team and the club the onus is on us to ensure we come up with a fair and reasonable offer.

"However, Cameron has also made it quite clear that he has no intention discussing his future, whatsoever, until after the finals - his full focus is purely on the upcoming finals and we're very comfortable with the whole situation."

 

Would Munster follow his former teammate to Sydney? (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
Would Munster follow his former teammate to Sydney? (Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

 

Recent posturing by the Sydney Roosters hasn't spooked the reigning premier, either, as multiple clubs are poised to have a crack at the sought-after 23-year-old phenom.

Cronk's move to the Bondi billionaire Chooks last year, coupled with the expected signing of prized Storm assistant Adam O'Brien, has fuelled speculation around a Tricolour's raid.

But the Rockhampton product's strong ties to Queensland puts the powerhouse Broncos and Cowboys squarely in the picture, should Melbourne drop the ball at the negotiating table.

 

Munster’s Origin displays underlined his ability. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Munster’s Origin displays underlined his ability. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

 

Munster has played 85 games since making his debut in 2014.

A major reason for his decision to leave Queensland was to develop under Storm premiership coach Craig Bellamy, captain Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cronk.

Munster was thrust onto the big stage well ahead of schedule, the following year, stepping in at fullback for almost two seasons as Slater recovered from twin shoulder reconstructions.

His game reached new heights last year, helping club, state and country pick up silverware.

Arguably the NRL's most damaging young playmaker, Munster can ask for about $1m a year in the open market.

But the Storm is well placed, having meticulously planned its list management strategy to absorb the - inevitable - departures of superstars Slater and Smith.

 

Champions, finals — why would he want to go anywhere else? (AAP Image/Daniel Pockett)
Champions, finals — why would he want to go anywhere else? (AAP Image/Daniel Pockett)

 

Melbourne locked away premiership winners and future stars last year on long-term deals, including Jesse Bromwich, Josh Addo-Carr, Curtis Scott and Brodie Croft, to be in a strong position to retain both Munster and Nelson Asofa-Solomona.

And contrary to reports, Melbourne isn't planning on any blockbuster free agency raids of its own with a legion of exciting prospects filtering through Bellamy's elite finishing school.

 

LIVE stream every game of every round of the 2018 NRL Telstra Premiership on FOX SPORTS. Get your free two-week Foxtel Now trial and start watching in minutes. SIGN UP NOW >