Cooper Cronk’s missing accolade prompts him to win NRL grand final with Sydney Roosters
Posted On September 30, 2021
In terms of LNR CV, there are few that could match that of Sydney Roosters half-back Cooper Cronk.
Cooper Cronk to play 375th and final NRL game in Sunday’s grand final
In last year’s tie-breaker, Cronk played despite his broken shoulder blade the week before
Rooster co-captain Jake Friend hopes to be fit after injury-ridden season
Three Premierships (2012, 2017, 2018), 38 tests for Australia, 22 Origin games for Queensland, two Dally Ms, a Clive Churchill medal and a Golden Boot for the best player in the world.
Sunday’s grand final against the Canberra Raiders will be Cronk’s ninth appearance in a decisive game and his 375th and final game of his 16-year decorated career.
The only thing he’s failed to get are back-to-back titles with the same club – something that’s on the cards if the Roosters beat Canberra on Sunday.
“I’m not the right person to ask what that would do,” Cronk said.
“I’ve tried this a few times and failed so you might have to ask someone from the Broncos how to do it.”
Winning back-to-back prime ministerial positions is a feat that has not been achieved in 26 years, since the Brisbane Broncos won in 1992 and 1993 (although the Broncos also won the premier in 1998 after winning the Super League title in 1997).
The Roosters will have to get past a fiery Canberra Raiders squad if they are to emulate that feat, but the Habs have an advantage over last year in that Cronk enters the contest with good health.
The day before the 2018 Grand Final, Cronk was in a sling treating a 10cm fracture to his scapula.
At the eleventh hour, he chose to play with the injury and orchestrated a 21-6 belt from the Melbourne Storm, a performance his coach Trent Robinson described as giving him “legendary status”.
“All the gray hair in my head was basically from this week so I don’t really want to relive that,” said Cronk, recalling last year’s grand finale.
Cronk was recruited by Storm to the Roosters last year on a mission to win the post of Prime Minister, with the added personal incentive of combining soccer and spending more time with his young family.
At 35, Cronk is still in the best shape of his career and is desperate to come out on a high note, not just for himself, but for the club and the code that gave him everything.
“I have been so blessed to play this game,” said Cronk.
“The rugby league has been great for me and I never thought I would be in this position. The way I have to say thank you, especially to my teammates and to this soccer club and its members, it is is by my performance on Sunday. “
After 16 seasons in the NRL, the finality of Sunday’s swan song begins to be felt for Cronk.
“I’m not immune to walking around and being emotional about it knowing that this will be the last time I do some things,” Cronk said.
“But emotion can be a good thing, [it] can be a bad thing. “
While Cronk is uninjured, Roosters co-captain Jake Friend has had a season hampered by his own injury issues.
Friend has only appeared five games this year after suffering a torn bicep, a fractured forearm – which also became infected – and, last week, a strained calf, which prevented the hooker from winning the final preliminary of Saturday 14-6 on the Storm. .
“The infection is gone and the bone has healed well, but that’s not the thing that held me back last week that was frustrating,” Friend said.
“It’s just a little [calf] tightness but I couldn’t finish the training session last week. “
Friend hasn’t been on the field since beating the Cowboys in Round 18 in July, but he’s desperate to play his part on Sunday.
“[A] big game like a big final, I hope I can mentally overcome all the fatigue I have and I will do everything I can this week to make myself available, ”said Friend.
If he can’t, 20-year-old replacement hooker Sam Verrills is waiting backstage.