Melbourne coach Craig Bellamy believes a bunged-up shoulder won’t prevent five-eighth Cameron Munster from playing for Queensland in the State of Origin decider.
Munster was absent from the Storm side that suffered a 36-30 loss to Manly on Thursday after picking up an AC joint injury in his left shoulder following Sunday’s Origin Two in Perth.
The Storm desperately lacked the mercurial No.6’s creativity against the Sea Eagles and have now lost ground on Penrith in the battle for the minor premiership.
They are likely to be without Munster for another trip to Sydney next week – to face Cronulla – with Bellamy anticipating his five-eighth will be away on Maroons duties ahead of Origin Three on July 13.
“He wasn’t far off playing today I don’t think,” the Storm coach said.
“Sometimes with Munster you get mixed messages.
“On Tuesday at one stage he was playing then he wasn’t playing.
“I’m pretty sure he’s going to be alright for Origin, as far as I know.”
Bellamy took issue with his side’s defending against Manly, describing their efforts as “soft” but he wouldn’t use his players’ involvements in Test matches and Origin as an excuse.
“In past years, when we’ve had rep round, our guys have worn it as a badge of honour to back up and back up playing well. I’m not quite sure we did that,” he said.
“We had no energy or intent tonight which was really disappointing. If you put your hand up to play, well, you need to play well.”
In some comfort for the Storm, electric fullback Ryan Papenhuyzen got through the loss to Manly unscathed.
Papenhuyzen showed signs of rust after he returned from a eight-week lay-off and only injected himself into the contest once Manly had enough points to stave off the threat of a fightback.
The fullback scored twice in a late flurry, but Bellamy was confident that Papenhuyzen would rediscover the form that had him linked to an Origin call-up for NSW earlier in the year.
“Up until he scored his first try he only had four runs and we need him involved more than that,” Bellamy said.
“We expected that (rust), I think it’s been seven or eight weeks he’s been off with a couple of injuries.
“I think it’s going to take him a couple of weeks to get back into rhythm again, but we saw what he could do at the end. Hopefully he can get a little bit more involved in the game.”