‘Took a toll’: Murray details drain of Souths drama

George Clarke |

Cameron Murray has detailed for the first time how the mental drain of South Sydney’s 12 months from hell led to his body breaking down.

But back in the blue of NSW, fit again, and following a heart to heart with incoming Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett, Murray is ready to lead a fightback for his club and state.

Murray looks as if the pep is back in his step after being sidelined for the best part of six weeks.

It took just one 50-minute cameo against Brisbane enough to convince Blues coach Michael Maguire the lock was ready for the rigours of State of Origin with the series on the line next Wednesday in Melbourne.

At times over the last year, though, Murray has looked as if he has had the weight of a club on his shoulders following the exits of Souths great Sam Burgess and axed Bunnies coach Jason Demetriou.

Cameron Murray.
Cameron Murray looks a broken man after a loss to the Broncos. (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

Murray attempted to put on a brave face but the toll on his mental state began to impact his physical condition.

The workaholic forward, who often sports heavily-bandaged shoulders, picked up a bursae in his knee to start the season before he was eventually forced to sit out games with a hip injury.

“You try to be a bit stoic and tough throughout and be the person that you need your teammates you to be,” Murray said from NSW’s Blue Mountains camp.

“I think looking back … there were probably moments where it took a little bit of a toll on me.

“That’s why I say the silver lining is that when you’re forced to rest you take it.

“I’m a big believer that your body knows when you need a rest and if you don’t let it rest then it forces you to rest.

“I think that’s kind of why I went down with the injury, I took it as fate.”

Murray credits his fiancee Miranda and four-month-old daughter Avalon for giving him perspective, but so too a phone call from supercoach Bennett.

Cameron Murray holds his baby Avalon.
Cameron Murray holds his baby Avalon after Souths’ clash with Canterbury. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

The 74-year-old coach will return to Souths next year but not before Murray aims to lead a late charge towards the finals.

The Rabbitohs have won their last three games and are not out of the top-eight race.

“You can’t help but smile when someone like (Bennett) is committed to coming back and doing his best to fix what’s going wrong with the club,” Murray said.

“We all love Wayne and know what he’s capable of.

“I had a chat with him briefly, he’s always good to chat with – in dark times he always shares some good advice.

“He normally says the same thing but after a call with him you always feel better.”

In the short term, however, Murray is eager to help the Blues get level in the series.

The fact he has been picked to play in his preferred position as a starting lock – the 26-year-old has often been used as an edge forward at Origin level – speaks volumes to the belief Maguire has in him.

“It’s where I feel most comfortable and I’m very happy and grateful that Madge sees my best footy being played in this arena in that position too,” Murray said.

“I’ll just try and grab the opportunity with both hands and do the best I can for the Blues.”