On the eve of a game that will decide whether Melbourne will play in this year’s grand final, Storm halfback Cooper Cronk has given his teammates a much needed boost by declaring he could see out his career with the club.
“I enjoy football and I enjoy the lifestyle Melbourne offers,” Cronk told The Weekend Australian.
“I grew up in Queensland with my family and all that but I’m very much entrenched here in Melbourne. I’m very much focused on footy at the moment and we’ll worry about all that other stuff in due course.”
Cronk, 27, is contracted to the Storm until the end of 2013 but has a clause which allows him to renegotiate his deal at the end of next season _ a move designed to take advantage of the next television deal which could see more money in the game and an increase in the salary cap.
There would be no shortage of clubs lining up to sign the Australia and Queensland halfback and he has already been linked to the Parramatta Eels where he could join former Storm assistant coach Stephen Kearney, and the South Sydney Rabbitohs with another Storm protege in Michael Maguire to take over in 2012. Storm football manager Frank Ponissi did not want to discuss whether clubs would be circling Cronk in earnest next year but was quietly optimistic about retaining his No 7.
“Cooper just focuses purely on the task at hand,” Ponissi said. “If it’s during the Origin period, it was the Origin match, and then after the Origin it’s everything for the Storm. Each week as each game gets bigger that’s his main focus.
“I think the first time Cooper will have a genuine thought about where his career is going will be when he’s on holidays somewhere after next year. He’s the most focused and driven player that I’ve ever had any dealings with. He’s amazing like that.”
Cronk’s focus at the moment will be the Warriors at AAMI Park tonight with the winner going through to the grand final at ANZ Stadium.