He is the most valuable player on the NRL market, but now the Melbourne Storm must fend off the attention of a rival code as well as competing league clubs in their battle to retain star playmaker Cooper Cronk.
The Herald understands the Melbourne Rebels are preparing a bid for the off-contract 28-year-old, with English import Danny Cipriani is on the outer in Melbourne and unlikely to be re-signed beyond this season.
Indeed, some officials at the franchise and the Australian Rugby Union would not shed a tear if he departed Australian shores before the end of the coming Super Rugby season, both parties believing the serial bad boy is not a good influence on or off the field for star youngsters James O’Connor and Kurtley Beale.
The Herald has been told Rebels officials view Cronk as the perfect acquisition, given his history in rugby and his status in Melbourne.
It is understood ARU officials are admirers of Cronk, who grew up playing rugby and played alongside former Wallabies five-eighth Matt Giteau. It is also understood the ARU will not stand in the way of a play for another NRL star, given Cronk’s history in rugby and would be open to helping facilitate a deal that would see the St Laurence’s College product return to rugby after 10 years in league.
Cronk grew up playing rugby and began playing league at 18 before becoming the starting No.7 at the Storm in 2007. In the NRL, the Brisbane Broncos, South Sydney Rabbitohs and Parramatta Eels all in contention for his services.