When it comes to halves, these two are the cynosures of the rugby league world. Thurston is simply a magician, he has the ball on a string and when he’s on top form few can match him. Cronk is a perfectly oiled machine; he dominates games and applies his playmaking skills to perfection in almost any situation.
However, is he better? Let’s find out.
From a Premiership with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs to Dally M medals and Golden Boots with the North Queensland Cowboys to spearheading dominant Queensland and Australia sides. Thurston really has done all there is to do. A premiership with the Cowboys is the only remaining piece of the puzzle. Will he achieve that? Maybe not. Thurston is the complete playmaker, he can pick out the right pass 9 times out of 10, he can change the momentum of a match with his kicking game alone and has one of the most renowned dummies in Rugby League. Even if he’s having a poor match he can consistently produce in big moments and is seemingly immune to pressure. Thurston is also a wizard when it comes to exposing weaknesses in the opposition, in Origin 2 Thurston picked up on Laurie Daley’s plan to get Nathan Merrit running in and putting pressure on Inglis. So Thurston delivered two stunning cut out passes to tear the blues right side to shreds. Thurston has few weaknesses in his game that makes him all the more harder to shut down. He’s an unbelievable player and an immortal in waiting.
The transformation of Cooper Cronk from a handy bench utility to almost the perfect halfback is really something to behold. Hours on end spent perfecting his game on the training ground have immortalized him as Melbourne Storm and rugby league great. His kicking game is arguably the best in the NRL. He can get his team out of trouble with a huge kick to touch, he’s developed an almost uncatchable ‘flat bomb’, his attacking kicking game is lethal which has led to him regularly being one of the most prolific try assisters in NRL over the past few seasons. His running game is also very good, he has the pace to make the most of space and the threat of his passing and kicking games open up space for his running game. Cronk’s defensive game is on a similar level to Thurston’s and he also has few weaknesses. The Storm at times unbreakable defensive structures make it hard to target Cronk 1 on 1.
Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston are two ridiculously good players. One more season in a similar vein to the previous one might make me change my mind but for now, Thurston is the better player.