SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 30: Cameron Munster of the Storm looks dejected as he leaves the field after being sent to the sin bin during the 2018 NRL Grand Final match between the Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

It has been a controversial fortnight off-field for the NRL, but it could have ended in far different circumstances for Cameron Munster.

Melbourne Storm chairman Matt Tripp has publically stated how close the board came to sacking the star after the "white substance" video. Brandon Smith and Chris Lewis were also hit with fines and suspensions by the NRL.

The NRL's slap on the wrist punishment of a $30,000 fine and one-match suspension was topped by the Storm administration who added a $100,000 suspended fine, ordered Munster to serve a one-year ban from drinking, and have also offered to support his rehabilitation, where he has begun a four-week program.

Munster earlier this week admitted to his struggled with alcohol in a statement.

"As you’ve read in the media, I met with Storm Management and the NRL Integrity Unit shortly after the incident. I’ve been sanctioned for my actions, and I accept that I should be sanctioned," Munster's statement read.

"As some of you may know, I’ve had a difficult relationship with alcohol in the past. I thought that I had dealt with the issue, but clearly I still have some hurdles to overcome.

"I want you all to know that I’m working on that. Earlier this week, I made the decision, in consultation with the Club’s doctor, to seek some help with this battle. Starting tomorrow, I will be attending a treatment facility for the next 4 weeks."

CAMERON MUNSTER
Fullback
Storm
2021 SEASON AVG
0.3
Tries
0.6
Try Assists
3.1
Tackle Breaks

Tripp told The Sydney Morning Herald that the board came close to terminating his contract, but are now fully committed to helping the star turn his life around.

“There is a personal relationship as well as a professional one with Cameron, and I’ve really taken it to heart what has happened in the last week or two. It’s actually hurt me,” Tripp said.

“I know what a good bloke he is. I also know if you take the blinkers off he can stray.

“The board came close to terminating his contract, but the same board are fully united in wanting to help turn his life around and make him a long-term Melbourne Storm player. I know he will repay the faith. I’m confident of that. And so are the board.”

Off-contract at the end of the 2023 season, Munster is reportedly one of the key targets for Brisbane's second franchise. Munster in the past has admitted that he does enjoy the idea of returning back to the Sunshine state at some point in his career. However, Tripp believes returning back to Queensland isn't the greatest idea.

“By returning home to Melbourne, he will be back in the environment where he thrives best and where he has played his best footy,” Tripp said. “When Cameron is back home he has structure in his life.

“When he’s been in Queensland, the spotlight is always on you, especially with a player with the profile he has.

MACKAY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 02: Cameron Munster of the Storm runs the ball during the NRL Trial match between the Melbourne Storm and the North Queensland Cowboys on March 02, 2019 in Mackay, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

“There is a lot less of that down here, and he benefits from that routine of going to training and going home. He’s also got a baby on the way, which will be a real positive for him - it will be the most positive thing to happen in his life.

“By abstaining from drinking 12 months, completing rehab, being back in Melbourne, his home town, and having a big pre-season, we will see the old Cameron Munster back.

“He’s often told me he wants to finish his career in Melbourne. I’ve said to him the best place to see out his career is the Melbourne Storm.”