On many, many occasions in purple and maroon jumpers, Cameron Munster has stood on the Suncorp Stadium turf elated, having just played a mighty hand in a Melbourne or Queensland victory.
But in the aftermath of the Storm’s 26-0 defeat to the Broncos at the famous Brisbane venue on Friday night, the superstar five-eighth was gutted.
When asked by Nine’s Danika Mason to sum up the Storm’s performance in the first qualifying final, the whacky and wonderful mind of Munster arrived at two words.
“Dog shit,” said the champion five-eighth.
“Sorry for swearing, but our spine — myself, Hughesy (Jahrome Hughes), Harry (Grant), Meanes (Nick Meaney) — were disconnected tonight.”
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The loss was compounded by injuries suffered by Ryan Papenhuyzen and Xavier Coates.
The injury to Papenhuyzen, a broken ankle, is particularly tough for the club to take given the fullback’s horrific medical record.
The speedster was featuring in just his third NRL game after returning from a 13-month stint on the sideline due to a kneecap that had been shattered in 10 places.
In heartbreaking scenes, the game stopped for several minutes as Papenhuyzen was helped onto a medicab and taken from the field.
Coates is dealing with a suspected ankle sprain and is unlikely to be fit for the Storm’s do-or-die semi-final next week, in which they’ll face the winner of the Sharks-Roosters elimination final.
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Spearheaded by Payne Haas, Patrick Carrigan, Adam Reynolds, Kotoni Staggs, Jordan Riki and Reece Walsh, the Broncos were a world ahead of the Storm on Friday night.
Kevin Walters’ men struck first through a rampaging Staggs try in the eighth minute and were never challenged by the visitors.
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The Storm had won their last 14 games against the Broncos, as well as 24 of their last 26 meetings, and had not lost to Brisbane at Suncorp Stadium since 2009, but their long-time dominance of the Queensland club came to an abrupt halt as the finals series got underway.
“It just showed on the footy field. Tried things and it didn’t work,” Munster said in his post-game interview.
“It’s pretty poor for our fans. They deserve better.
“We tried to smart-arse our way out tonight and it really hurt us.
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“Full credit to the Broncos, though — they played really good footy.
“But if we compete like we did tonight it’s going to be the same thing next week.
“Myself and the spine need to have a good, hard look at themselves, especially myself. We can’t be dishing that up — it’s terrible.”
In their box looking down at the paddock, Walters and his coaching team were delighted as the clock ticked down to full-time.
The Broncos earned themselves a week off and punched their ticket to the club’s first NRL grand final qualifier since 2015.
In the meantime, Craig Bellamy, Munster and his teammates must brace themselves for a colossal survival challenge in the second week of the finals.