The Melbourne Storm have moved to stave off poaching raids on Cooper Cronk by tabling a $2.2 million deal to keep the Queensland halfback for life.
After months of speculation surrounding his future, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal Storm hierarchy have upped the ante, offering a four-year contract to secure Cronk until the end of 2016.
The deal will make Cronk one of the code’s highest earners and is almost certain to ward off purported interest from rival clubs including Souths, Melbourne’s round-two opponents today.
Speculation suggested the Rabbitohs were gunning for the Maroons playmaker, a rumour fuelled by the knowledge new South Sydney Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire was a former assistant to Craig Bellamy who worked with Cronk at Melbourne from 2004-09.
But former Wigan mentor Maguire effectively shut the door on the prospect of Souths making a play for Cronk on Friday, insisting the club was determined to invest in rookie halfback Adam Reynolds.
And with another potential suitor, the Broncos, having signed halves Peter Wallace and Corey Norman to upgraded deals, the prospect of Cronk walking out on the Melbourne club that unearthed him seems remote.