Cool, 'Cam' And Collected
This article first appeared on NRL.com.
While the silly season can't come soon enough for some of the teams out of finals contention, the South Sydney Rabbitohs have gone the other way, using the final few rounds of 2017 to blood generation next.
Coach Michael Maguire has shown faith in the likes of Angus Crichton and Tyrell Fuimaono for most of the season, and it seems he's unearthed the club's latest prodigy in local junior Cameron Murray.
Whether they've won or lost, Maguire has made special mention of the 19-year-old in most of his post-match press conferences, and after starting him on the bench five times in 2017, the veteran coach decided to hand Murray his maiden run-on role against the Bulldogs last Thursday.
Most teenagers would be overawed having to handle guys like James Graham and David Klemmer, but that wasn't the case for Murray who is destined for great things having represented the Junior Kangaroos and Blues earlier in the year.
"It was something that I'm used to so there weren't as many nerves as people might have thought," Murray told NRL.com.
"It's down to the experiences I've had in first grade rather than the rep games. I've played a few games now and I think nerves come with being disorganised and not ready.
"I did have some nerves but because I had some experience and I was confident that I could hold my own in the NRL, it wasn't as bad as it could have been had I gone in not knowing what to expect.
"There are a few more nerves when you start as opposed to coming off the bench because you're there when everyone else is fresh, but it's something I've done my whole life and it's something I pride myself on because I back my fitness and know that I can play big minutes. It was good to get the start and hopefully I can hold that position for the next few games.
"It was good to get the start and get into the game early and it was nice not to have to sit on the bench and hold onto all your energy and then come on and try to explode on the field at 100 miles an hour. It was good to ease into the game after that first run and tackle and then truly appreciate what it's like to start in the middle in an NRL game."
He might have been named in the second row but Murray found himself at lock forward for most of the match, with the Mascot Jets junior finishing with 117 metres and 39 tackles in the comfortable win.
Having played in the back row for the Junior Blues and at lock for the Junior Kangaroos, Murray said he is happy to slot in anywhere Maguire wants him to play so long as it means another opportunity in first grade.
"I've played mostly second row this year so I've got a knack for both positions," he said.
"I know how to play second row now and I enjoy the space you get on the edge and the early ball you get when you're not under as much fatigue as when you play in the middle. When I was growing up, I loved getting involved in the middle and being around everything there so I don't really have a preference and I'll just play wherever Madge wants to put me."
Murray's elevation to the starting side saw NRL Fantasy favourite Angus Crichton relegated to the bench, but that appears to be a temporary switch with the boom rookie set to regain his spot on the right edge with Murray set to move to lock and Sam Burgess slated to play prop against the Warriors on Friday.
"I think I'm back starting this week so last week was just a good opportunity to rest up the body a little bit," Crichton told NRL.com in relation to the foot injury that has plagued him.
"It gets to this time of the year and coaches are looking to try new combinations and it was unreal to give Cam his first start because he was absolutely unbelievable for us and I'm really proud of him. To give a young kid like him a crack and to see him take it so well and perform under that pressure shows he's a great prospect for Souths in the future."