New rules make Murray the modern NRL lock

Changes to the game has made South Sydney's Cameron Murray the perfect lock in rugby league.
Changes to the game has made South Sydney's Cameron Murray the perfect lock in rugby league.

Cameron Murray never fell into the trap of believing he was too small to be an NRL lock, even when he was told otherwise.

Back in 2017, when he was just coming into first grade with South Sydney, rugby league was a different game and the No.13 on any side was a completely different position.

The 90kg-workhorse was brave and tough, but was never big enough to play as a third prop the way then-Rabbitohs star Sam Burgess did.

"When I first came into first grade I had a bit of noise about not being big enough because traditionally that No.13 role was played as a third front-rower," the NSW Origin star said ahead of Friday night's NRL preliminary final against Manly.

"I found my feet pretty quickly and for me to play my best footy I needed to play to my strengths and not try and fill another role that I wasn't going to be good at, and that meant playing the way that I play now."

Little did he know it then but Murray would become the prototype forward for modern rugby league.

Rapid rule changes in the five years since he debuted have meant the game has come to Murray, favouring agility and speed as well as big minutes with less interchanges.

Today, any NRL team would be thrilled for Murray to wear their No.13 jersey.

"That's coincided really well with the new rules and the way the game has started to head since I made my debut," he said.

"It might be a coincidence, it might just be luck but if you analyse it, it probably does turn into my favour the way the rules have been going.

"Since I started playing 13 and started playing rugby league consistently I've just played the way that I do now.

"I haven't tried to change anything, I've just played to my strengths and do my best for the team.

"I'm just trying to be a Cameron Murray on the field, I didn't come in and try to be a Sam Burgess or anything."

He will, however, take some inspiration from his former captain with him into his fourth preliminary final in as many seasons.

Murray idolised Burgess when he was growing up and said learning from the premiership-winner in the early days of his career helped shape him as a player.

"I sat next to him in the locker room when I debuted, it was a crucial couple of years for me in terms of learning from one of the best who have ever done it," Murray said.

"Playing with my childhood hero for the first couple of years of my career, I learnt so much off him and so much of his mentality and how he approaches footy I still hold today.

"It's a part of the way I prepare and the way I play the game too."

Australian Associated Press