Blues’ plan to target Munster’s ribs

NSW Blues Training Session
Hudson Young will make his State of Origin debut after surviving a troubled journey in the early stages of his career. Picture: Mark Kolbe / Getty Images

Blues forward Liam Martin says he’ll “test out” Cameron Munster’s ribs after the Maroons five-eighth let slip he’s been battling several injuries in the lead-up to next week’s State of Origin opener in Adelaide.

The Storm playmaker revealed on Saturday he’s been playing with a fractured rib and rib cartilage damage, as well as a hyperextended elbow which he suffered in the win over the Dolphins.

Munster told journalists he was expecting the Blues to target him and encouraged them to “bring it on”.

Martin says that’s exactly what will happen next Wednesday.

Maroons Training
The Blues will target Cameron Munster after the Maroons star revealed he has been playing with busted ribs. Picture: Liam Kidston

“We’ll have to be testing it out, surely. We’ll test it out and see what happens,” he said.

“It is sort of (music to the ears to hear he’s injured) but I don’t want to worry about it too much, otherwise it’ll distract us. But you definitely want to go after it.”

Spending too much energy on the Queensland veteran is a massive risk given he’s shown he can play through pain in the past, with few defenders able to devise a plan to limit his impact on the scoreboard.

“He’s quite strong for his size and he fights like hell, so we’ll be doing everything we can to get him to the ground,” Martin said.

“You’ve just got to expect the unexpected with him. You can never switch off with him because you never know what he’s going to do. He’s very successful so we’ll be on high alert around him.”

NRL Rd 12 - Dolphins v Storm
Munster didn’t appear to be too injured in Melbourne’s win over the Dolphins. Picture: Bradley Kanaris / Getty Images

NSW rookie Hudson Young will be on the other side of the field when the game kicks off, so it’s unlikely he’ll be able to tackle Munster, not that he thinks the rep star is as sore as he says he is.

“I’m sure his ribs aren’t as bad as he says they are,” the Raiders edge forward said.

Young has other things to focus on, with the 24-year-old set to make his Origin debut after overcoming a series of major hurdles in the early stages of his career.

The Canberra forward was suspended for two years after he tested positive to a banned substance, while he also served two separate bans for eye-gouging incidents, with one of those costing him a spot in the 2019 Grand Final.

He’s since mellowed out but has maintained the aggression and the off-the-cuff skills which impressed Blues coach Brad Fittler.

But it’s his coach back in Canberra who has played the biggest part in his career, with Young paying tribute to Ricky Stuart for helping him see the light after his lengthy bans.

Supplied Editorial Fwd: Hudson Young Pics
Hudson Young was suspended for five games for an eye gouge on Aiden Tolman, but he’s fixed his discipline after some tough love from Ricky Stuart. Picture: Fox Sports

“I think I needed tough love,” Young said, describing Stuart as a father figure to all young men who leave home to play for the Raiders.

“There was no point giving me a pat on the back for something I did wrong.

“He controlled it really well and he reads people really well. That’s probably the biggest thing about him – he knows how to read people and he’s done it with all his players.

“Everyone who has gone there loves him and he has the same influence on everyone.

“You can see how passionate he is, and that’s why everyone plays for him. He hates losing, as do all footy players, but he takes it to a new level and I feel like that’s rubbed on me. I hate losing.

“Most people who go to the Raiders aren’t actually from Canberra. I was only 17 years old when I moved away from home for the first time; he’s always been there for me to lean on when I’ve needed him.”