Storm nearly sacked Munster over ‘white substance’ video as chief issues stern 17th-team warning

Melbourne chairman Matt Tripp has revealed how close the club came to sacking Cameron Munster in light of the “white substance” video scandal which has rocked the Storm since the end of the season.

Munster is beginning a four-week program at a rehabilitation facility for alcohol abuse and received a one-match ban and a $30,000 from the NRL and a suspended $100,000 fine from the Storm, as well as being ordered to stop drinking for a year.

However, he very nearly had his contract torn up completely until the club’s board decided to support him with his issues after a second straight season playing in Queensland put the pressure on him to play up to his larrikin character.

Tripp, who has developed a close bond with Munster over the years, insisted that a return to Victoria and his usual network and surroundings would allow him to “put the blinkers” back on and get his career back on track.

“There is a personal relationship as well as a professional one with Cameron, and I’ve really taken it to heart what has happened in the last week or two. It’s actually hurt me,” Tripp said, via The Sydney Morning Herald.

“I know what a good bloke he is. I also know if you take the blinkers off he can stray.

“The board came close to terminating his contract, but the same board are fully united in wanting to help turn his life around and make him a long-term Melbourne Storm player. I know he will repay the faith. I’m confident of that. And so are the board.”

Munster is seen as the top target for the second Brisbane franchise, which is set to enter the competition from 2023, the end of which season is when the five-eighth will be off contract with Melbourne.

He has already said himself that he would entertain a return home to Queensland then, although Tripp insisted that this latest incident was reason for why he would be wise to stick with the Storm.

“By returning home to Melbourne, he will be back in the environment where he thrives best and where he has played his best footy,” Tripp added. “When Cameron is back home he has structure in his life.

“When he’s been in Queensland, the spotlight is always on you, especially with a player with the profile he has.

“There is a lot less of that down here, and he benefits from that routine of going to training and going home. He’s also got a baby on the way, which will be a real positive for him - it will be the most positive thing to happen in his life.

“By abstaining from drinking 12 months, completing rehab, being back in Melbourne, his home town, and having a big pre-season, we will see the old Cameron Munster back.

“He’s often told me he wants to finish his career in Melbourne. I’ve said to him the best place to see out his career is the Melbourne Storm.”