Injured Munster’s return behind unlikely Storm win

Melissa Woods |

Captain Christian Welch says Cameron Munster’s sensational return to the field after his nasty injury gave Melbourne confidence they could topple Parramatta in their NRL season opener.

Munster suffered a compound dislocation of his finger, leaving the bone protruding through the skin, midway through the first half of their 16-12 victory over the Eels.

But the star five-eighth downplayed the injury at half-time and rallied the troops, who were trailing 0-6.

“We came in and we were down 6-0 and even myself as captain was thinking that we could be in for a pretty tough night here – we’ve got guys out injured before the game and now Cam, probably our best player – it’s not looking too good,” said Welch.

“Great players give confidence to the players around him and it was just the way he spoke and settled the group.

“He said, ‘We’ve got this, we’re down 6-0 but we’ve worked really hard’ and then him obviously returning to the field it was really big for the confidence of the whole group.”

Welch said Munster didn’t show any signs of the injury which required surgery and will sideline him for at least two weeks, with utility Tyran Wishart named as his replacement to face Canterbury on Saturday night.

He said Munster didn’t want to let down teammates like debutant Bronson Garlick, while coach Craig Bellamy had never lost a round-one match.

“It must have been excruciating but his ability to handle the ball after was amazing,” Welch said.

“Just his will to get back out there … it boils down to competitive nature.”

The loss of their chief playmaker is a huge blow to the Storm as they return to AAMI Park but Welch said they would just try to keep things simple in his absence.

“At the start of the year if you play a simple brand of footy, a really hard, competitive brand of footy you’ll go alright because teams are really adjusting to the pace of the game, match fitness, executing different combinations. 

“It’s not ideal obviously but I’d rather him (Munster) out for a couple of weeks in round two and three then rounds 24 and 25.”

Welch himself banked his first game back after rupturing his Achilles in round one at CommBank Stadium last year, playing against Wests Tigers.

“Last year it was the same stadium that I did my Achilles and the same locker I was sitting in a year ago crying my eyes out so that was a bit triggering when I first got to the stadium,” he said.

“It’s so frenetic when you’re out in the field as a front rower you don’t have time to get nervous or worried about getting injured.”

Winger Xavier Coates was a surprise inclusion for the Bulldogs suffering a sprain to his sternoclavicular joint in the Eels match.