‘Listen, I’ve got a potential superstar up here’
RUGBY LEAGUE: Jason Hetherington likes nothing more than watching fellow Central Queenslanders shine in the NRL.
What’s even more satisfying for the former Origin great is knowing he’s played a direct hand in their rise to the top.
Case in point is Cameron Munster, who is a fixture in the Melbourne Storm line-up and has represented Queensland and Australia.
Hetherington coached an 18-year-old Munster at the CQ Capras in 2013 and knew he was destined for big things.
Munster was fast making a name for himself in the Intrust Super Cup and his stunning intercept try that sealed the Capras win over Redcliffe in Round 20 continues to feature on the competition’s highlight reels.
Hetherington realised the teen tearaway had the makings of a star and was keen to help him take the next step.
“I tried a few different clubs first and then I rang (recruitment guru) Paul Bunn at Melbourne who I know well,” he said.
“I said ‘Listen, I’ve got a potential superstar up here, you should come and have a look at him’.
“We were playing Easts at Langlands Park that weekend and with Easts, being a feeder to Melbourne, Paul came to the game and said ‘Yes, we’ll have him’.
“Cameron was only 18 and he was lighting up the Intrust Super Cup. I thought if he could do that at that age then with a better training program in front of him in around blokes like Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk in a strong system he would only get better and better.”
Hetherington has witnessed Munster do just that.
The Rockhampton product has now made 119 appearances for the Storm, played seven games for the Maroons and worn the green and gold four times.
“It’s all fallen the right way for him. He got the opportunity but he had to take it, he had to do the work and he’s done that, which is great,” Hetherington said.
“He’s playing for Australia so he’s up among the game’s best at the moment and he’s going to get better with maturity and experience.
“It makes you feel proud when you see players like Cameron go on with it.
“I’m not the only one, a lot of people have had an impact on his journey and that’s what we’re here for - to get kids like him an opportunity at the highest level.”
Hetherington said Munster had all the right ingredients in his game.
“He’s a footballer, he’s very instinctive. He can do things that can turn the momentum, turn a match – that’s what he’s good at.
“That’s what happens with the great players – they get called upon in the tight moments in the big plays and I think that is Cameron’s role now and he’s definitely earned that.”