Cooper Cronk’s shock decision to leave Melbourne sent shockwaves through the rugby league community but it opened up a thrilling chase for the prized halfback’s signature when he arrives in Sydney at the end of this season.
The potential future Immortal enters a jam-packed player market, featuring high-profiles names such Aaron Woods, James Tedesco, Jack Bird, Chad Townsend and Josh Reynolds, that is set to explode.
Cronk’s resume is endless and with the price tag between $1-1.5 million, any club will be more than willing to pay him for his proven worth, especially in a landscape where lucrative money is being tossed around.
The Canterbury Bulldogs would be ideal. There has been a lot of talk about who will remain in the team on season’s end. Josh Reynolds and Moses Mbye are both under pressure after scratchy performances to dates this year. Many pundits are calling for one of them to play in the hooker position. Creativity is limited out of dummy half and that’s not taking anything away from Michael Lichaa, but he is struggling to provide consistent NRL football. By putting Cronk in the halfback role, it would give the club some direction around the park and some stability. People have to remember that in the Under 20’s Moses played a lot of matches in the centre position as a captain. Maybe he could take that position up again in the future.
Another team that may be of interest are Wests Tigers. They’re now on the lookout for someone to replace Mitchell Moses. Cooper can bring so much to a young outfit especially with his experience, and with him being involved at the club, there are no doubt players like Luke Brooks will benefit greatly especially in developing his own game. Wests Tigers will have a bit of money to throw around and with talk Aaron Woods and James Tedesco may depart; this might be the right time for the club to pounce on Cronk.
It’s not likely many other teams in Sydney will approach Cronk. The Parramatta Eels have signed Mitchell Moses and that immediately closes off the possibility of in Cooper Cronk. Brad Arthur seems to be content with the idea of Corey Norman playing halfback and Moses playing five-eighth. It would be interesting to see if Cooper did sign with the Eels, which would mean that Parramatta might have had one of the best halves combinations in the comp. Clinton Gutherson is a backline utility and can anywhere in the back five.
South Sydney at this stage seems pretty comfortable in their halves situation; Adam Reynolds and Cody Walker complement each other perfectly. Adam is a composed player who knows how to control a game and Cody is a ball runner who thrives off Reynold’s rugby-league smarts.
Cronk to the Roosters doesn’t make much sense, besides the fact Nick Politis would always be interested in signing high-calibre players. They’re playing quality footy in a 4-2 record, with all indications Pearce and Keary their long-term halves combination. They’ve played together for six rounds already and it looks like they’ve played together for many years.
Similarly, the Penrith Panthers’ young halves are destined to stay there for the future. Panthers management should have no intention to let Nathan Cleary and Te Maire Martin leave. They have the potential to grow their dynamic partnership and become NRL superstars.
The Cronulla Sharks are the reigning premiers and have a proven halves combination in Chad Townsend and James Maloney. On the other hand, Cooper Cronk has achieved plenty in his career and could be a possible fit for the Sharks, especially with Jack Bird on the radar of many rival teams.
St George are in scintillating form and their significant improvement is a promising sign for the future. Off-contract Gareth Widdop and Josh McCrone have done enough in the early round to solidify their halves combination. Perhaps a reunion with 2012 premiership- teammate Widdop is in the mix for Cronk.
Where Cronk lands in Sydney – and whether he decides to retire – will be a captivating storyline to unfold during the year.
The 33-year-old is still a bonafide NRL superstar with plenty left to give the game.
Let’s hope that all the speculation of Cronk retiring by season’s end is false and we can see him playing a few more years in the NRL.