Odd couple Welch and Munster hit Melbourne milestones

Melissa Woods |

Melbourne’s Christian Welch will play his 150th NRL game after overcoming three serious injuries.
Melbourne’s Christian Welch will play his 150th NRL game after overcoming three serious injuries.

After sharing a house when they first arrived in Melbourne as teenagers to play for the Storm, Christian Welch has no qualms about sharing a milestone game with Cameron Munster.

Welch happily donned a ‘Munster 200 ‘ T-shirt at training despite Saturday’s clash with Gold Coast being his 150th NRL match.

On the surface they appear complete opposites – Welch about to finish his MBA studies with ambitions to be a club CEO while the uniquely-talented Munster is known as the club’s lovable larrikin.

But Melbourne’s odd couple still have plenty in common; primarily their love of the club where they’ve both spent their entire NRL careers.

Cameron Munster and Christian Welch
Long-time teammates Cameron Munster (l) and Christian Welch will both celebrate milestone games. (Darren England/AAP PHOTOS)

“It’s so great to share the milestone with him,” said Welch.

“We’ve been through a lot – we were 18 when we first got here but we’re both from central Queensland and before his bucks he sent me a photo of a team sheet from 2006 when we were about 12 when we were playing against each other in cricket.

“It’s crazy we’ve come from there and have been at the club for over a decade together.

“We’ve both had some challenges but I’m so proud of the guy he is – he’s obviously a bit of a maverick but he’s really matured as a person and it’s amazing to see how good of a father he is, a good husband, he’s really mellowed.

“To share the night with him will be a big honour.”

Welch trails his Queensland Origin teammate by 50 games after being sidelined for long stints by two knee reconstructions and a ruptured Achilles.

While losing the captaincy this year to Harry Grant with coach Craig Bellamy sizing him up for a bench role, 29-year-old Welch is still a leader for the young players.

This week he organised a dinner for Jonah Pezet the night before the young halfback underwent his ACL operation, inviting other players he joked were members of the “ACL club” to share their wisdom.

Such acts made Welch so valuable to the club, according to Bellamy.

“Christian is one of those guys who has got to where he’s got to through a lot of hard work,” the coach said.

“He’s our leader of small things in the game and we see small things as really important as they turn into big things so he’s always been our guardian of that.

“He’s done a good job to battle back from the injuries that he’s had and still play at the top level.”

Welch said he couldn’t have made it back without his family, who will be at the Titans game to celebrate.

“It’s a proud moment for myself but also my family, who rode that wave with me,” Welch said.

“I’ve had a lot of highs but some downs with some serious injuries and I’m so grateful for the support I had.

“I came down here at the end of 2012 so I don’t know anything else and don’t really want to know anything else.

“It’s such a privilege to be an NRL player and play for this club.”