The Melbourne Storm have landed a $4 million recruitment coup by retaining the most in-demand talent on the NRL’s open market in Kangaroos and Queensland five-eighth Cameron Munster.
In a hammer blow for the NRL’s newest team the Dolphins, Munster has rejected a four-year $5.6 million deal from the NRL’s 17th team to instead re-sign with the Storm for a further four seasons until the end of 2027.
The move is a masterstroke in negotiating from Storm chairman Matt Tripp with the multi-millionaire Melbourne owner spending months behind-the-scenes convincing the Queensland and Australian no.6 to remain a one club player.
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Munster, 28, will turn 33 in the final year of the new Storm deal and in all likelihood will remain at the Purple Reign for the rest of his career.
“I love the Melbourne Storm and I am proud to be committing to the club for a further four years,” Munster said.
“The club has always been supportive of me, even through some of the more difficult times, and I appreciate Trippy, Justin, Frank and Craig giving me the time I needed to think through the decision with Bianca and my family.
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“It is such an important decision for me, and in the end, 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’ve always wanted to be a club player. Storm gave me the chance to play NRL and the club has become a second home for me since making my debut.
“Both Bianca and I have family back in Queensland but we are settled in Melbourne, we have a great support network and we look forward to growing our young family in the years to come.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported me through this process, and in my career, particularly to Bianca, my son Jaxson, my parents and extended family. Thank you also to my manager Braith Anasta.
“And finally, thank you to the boys, and everyone at the club, we have an exciting future ahead.”
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Widely-considered by many experts to be the NRL’s best player, Munster has taken a $200,000 hair cut on his existing Storm contract valued at $1.2 million next season once the new deal kicks in.
Munster’s new contract is for $1 million each season from 2024 until the end of 2027.
“We know this was a huge decision for Cameron and Bianca to make, particularly with family based in Queensland,” Tripp said.
“Cameron will always be a Queenslander, but we are pleased he now calls Melbourne home as well.
“Cameron has matured a lot on and off the field over the last 12 months. He has worked extremely hard in the off-season to get himself into shape and has proven he is one of the best players in the NRL competition again this season, winning the Storm Player of the Year Award and Dally M five-eighth player of the year in the NRL team of the year.
“Most importantly, Cameron has never been in a better place in his life, he is happy, healthy and settled with his young family, and we are thrilled he has decided to remain with the Storm and will become a one club player.
“We are so lucky to have a player like Cameron – a generational player – committed to our Club and our city for another four years.”
The about-face from Munster comes in lieu of the NRL grand finale when the star five-eighth made the decision he still wants to try and win more premierships.
Munster already has two titles to his name but in a Melbourne Storm spine set to consist of Ryan Papenhuyzen, Jahrome Hughes, Harry Grant and the Queensland five-eighth there is every chance of further adding to his premiership tally.
The move is a major coup for the Storm after the Dolphins made no secret of identifying Munster as the club’s priority target for 2024 with the NRL’s 17th team prepared to pay the five-eighth $1.4 million per season as the face of the new franchise.
Given the drawn-out negotiations, privately the Melbourne Storm had all but conceded Munster was gone to the Dolphins and had begun making contingency plans around targeting alternative five-eighths.
Originally, the Storm only offered Munster a two-year extension for 2024 and 2025.
This was then bumped up to a three-year offer until the end of 2026.
But what really sealed the deal was Tripp taking such a personal interest in the negotiations and the Storm king pin being prepared to offer a four-year $4 million deal.