62 Coop to rule the Roost
BILLY Slater says Cooper Cronk’s departure is the biggest loss in Melbourne’s 20year history, and the Roosters recruit could be the X-factor that derails the Storm’s quest for back-to-back premierships.
Cronk led the Storm to grand final glory only five weeks ago, and now Slater fears the champion halfback will make the Roosters a legitimate force next year.
Slater has seen a slew of bigname stars like Matt Orford and Greg Inglis depart during his 15 seasons at Melbourne, while he, Cronk and Cameron Smith amassed 980 games as the Big Three, driving Storm’s title dominance.
Fullback Slater conceded Cronk’s exit cut deepest, and the Roosters would profit from breaking up Melbourne’s record-breaking trio.
“Cooper is a major threat to us next year,” Slater said.
“He still has that drive to play and I respect his decision to leave us and play on.
“He will be successful no matter where he is. He is such a competitor and, because he is so professional, he is going to make the Roosters a better club. They will be a real threat next year.
“It’s going to be weird playing alongside Cooper next season ... I have never played a game of football against Coop, and I’ve been playing in the NRL for 15 years.” AUSTRALIA smashed minnows Lebanon 34-0 in the Rugby League World Cup but are facing a front-row crisis after David Klemmer and Aaron Woods were reported in separate incidents in Sydney.
Elsewhere, Tonga stunned New Zealand with a stirring 28-22 come-from-behind win in Hamilton.
Kangaroos James Maloney and Matt Gillett tackle Lebanon’s Anthony Layoun during the home side’s 34-0 rout at Allianz Stadium in Sydney last night. Picture: GETTY IMAGES