Sport Rugby League NRL Finals 2017: The player set to ‘dominate’ over the next month

NRL Finals 2017: The player set to ‘dominate’ over the next month

Munster broke a lengthy try-scoring drought a fortnight ago. Photo: Getty
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He has played just five finals but 22-year-old Cameron Munster is ready to take the next step and control September, according to retired star Michael Ennis.

Ennis – who played a key role in Cronulla’s drought-breaking premiership success last year – said it would take a “monumental” effort to beat the Storm in the post-season.

And part of that is because of five-eighth Munster, who is well-placed to build on his excellent performance in this year’s State of Origin decider.

“I think Cameron Munster is set for a big finals series,” the Fox League commentator told The New Daily.

“He got a lot out of that third Origin game and his performance in that situation will give him a heap of confidence.

“With all the talk about Cameron Smith’s milestones and Cooper Cronk leaving the club, Munster has slipped under the radar a fair bit.

“But his performances this year have been very, very good and I think he has the skill and class to dominate in September.”

The Storm young gun has played all five of his finals at full-back, deputising for the then-injured Billy Slater.

Craig Bellamy’s Melbourne side has not won a title since 2012 despite finishing in the top four in four of the past five years.

But Ennis, who led Cronulla to victory over the Storm in a drama-filled grand final last year, said their spread of contributors and consistency makes them the team to beat in 2017.

“They’ve had a tremendous season,” he said ahead of Saturday’s qualifying final between Melbourne and the Parramatta Eels at AAMI Park.

“They’ve been so consistent all year and the other seven sides [in the finals], who have all been good, haven’t been able to sustain consistency this year.

“Cameron Smith has had another outstanding season, Munster has really developed, Billy Slater coming back at full-back has been a huge inclusion.

“And guys like Curtis Scott, Josh Addo-Carr, Dale Finucane – they have all improved.

“It looks to be a bit of a one-horse race at the moment but I still think they are beatable – if another side can be consistent over 80 minutes against them.”

Ennis feels the Sydney Roosters and the Sharks are the Storm’s biggest threats throughout September and October, tipping Trent Robinson’s side to edge the Brisbane Broncos in a Friday night classic to kick off this year’s finals action.

The Roosters finished second-bottom last year. Photo: Getty

“What a brilliant way to kick off the finals series – both sides have been absolutely scintillating for periods during the season,” he said.

“My heart says the Broncos, with Wayne [Bennett] and the success he has had, but I’m going to go for the Roosters in a real tight one.

“The Roosters can really challenge the Storm if they can win this, get the week off and a home preliminary final at Allianz Stadium. It’s the final I’m looking forward to most.”

The experience gained in last year’s finals run will hold Cronulla in great stead, said Ennis, who is confident the injury-hit North Queensland Cowboys will pose little threat to the Sharks on Sunday afternoon.

“I don’t mean this disrespectfully but the Cowboys have done a tremendous job just to make it, with the injuries they have had,” he added.

“The Sharks will win this – and win well.

“They have got the quality to achieve in this finals series and got really good finals experience last year.

“They have also fallen on a really good side of the draw. If they win this, they’d face the Storm or the Eels, who they’ve had success against this year.”

This weekend’s NRL finals

Friday September 8 – 7.55pm (AEST)
Sydney Roosters v Brisbane Broncos
Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Saturday September 9 – 4.10pm
Melbourne Storm v Parramatta Eels
AAMI Park, Melbourne

Saturday September 9 – 7.40pm
Manly Sea Eagles v Penrith Panthers
Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Sunday September 10 – 4.10pm
Cronulla Sharks v North Queensland Cowboys
Allianz Stadium, Sydney

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