Titans in mix for Munster
CAMERON Munster has become the most sought-after player in the NRL, with seven clubs, including the Titans and Cowboys, targeting the Queensland Origin star.
It was yesterday confirmed the Melbourne Storm playmaker is on the Titans and Cowboys' hit-list, with both clubs registering interest in bringing the Rockhampton product back to Queensland.
The Storm are keen to open extension talks with Munster but the Maroons ace has indicated a desire to test his value on the open market from November 1, when he can field formal offers.
That opens the door for a raft of NRL rivals including the Cowboys, Roosters, Parramatta and Titans to put pressure on a Storm club which faces outlaying $1 million annually to keep Munster in Melbourne.
It is understood the Titans' recruitment-and-retention committee have identified Munster as a key target for 2020 and lodged preliminary interest with his management.
Titans coach Garth Brennan concedes the club may struggle to win a bidding war for his services, but believes Munster's signing would be a multifaceted coup for the Coast.
"I am massive fan of Munster," said Brennan as his side prepares to face the Storm this Saturday.
"We can't make a formal offer until November 1, but if Cam is in the market, we'd like to have a chat to him.
"There is room for us to afford Munster down the track and there's no doubt a guy like him would be fairly marketable as well. That's something to look at for our club. He is an Origin and Australian representative and one of the best players in the competition.
"The reality is it will be hard to compete against the Roosters and Cowboys. Usually, if the Roosters want someone, they get them, but Munster is a super player and could bring something to our club."
The Roosters loom as a major threat to the Storm. The Sydney glamour club will have salary-cap space with Cooper Cronk likely to retire at the end of 2019. Melbourne assistant coach Adam O'Brien will link with the Roosters next season and Munster is a huge fan of the man who presides over the Storm's attack.
The Cowboys believe Munster can bring spark to their backline, but the Storm are determined not to lose the 23-year-old once groomed to be the next Billy Slater.
"We are very confident of retaining 'Munny' - he is an important player for us to keep at the club long-term," Storm football operations chief Frank Ponissi said.
"He and his manager have been very open and transparent and we are aware of the interested clubs.
"The demand for him doesn't surprise us at all. It's a compliment to him.
"Munny has indicated his very strong desire to stay in Melbourne so the onus is on us to make him a fair and reasonable offer.
"However, Cameron has also told us that he does not want to discuss his future at all until after the finals. We have never seen him so focused going into the finals and we are very excited to see him like this."
Brennan believes the Storm are in the box seat to retain Munster.
"With Billy Slater retiring and Cam Smith likely to retire next year, Melbourne will have money freed up and I'd be very surprised if they let Munster go without a fair fight," he said.
"It's going to be hard for him to leave Melbourne. Cam will be a huge part of their future, but we can only ask the question and we will."
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