Cronk to take con­trol

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - TODD BA­LYM

MA­ROONS su­per­star Johnathan Thurston can feel the pres­sure lift from his shoul­ders now that his gen­eral Cooper Cronk is back in charge of Queens­land’s des­tiny.

Cronk joined the Queens­land team on the Gold Coast yesterday and an im­me­di­ate sense of calm would’ve de­scended across Camp Ma­roon as their com­posed half­back was back to guide the team into the de­cider.

The Ma­roons won’t hit the train­ing pad­dock un­til to- mor­row but al­ready Thurston is feel­ing much more con­fi­dent about hav­ing the pre­mier­ship­win­ning Test half­back bark­ing or­ders for the team next week.

“It helps the team hav­ing Coops back in,” Thurston said.

“I wouldn’t say we were dis- jointed but we were mak­ing a lot of un­char­ac­ter­is­tic er­rors in game two which put our­selves un­der the pump, so hav­ing Cooper back in the side will give us a bit more sta­bil­ity there. It’s good to have him back.

“He has been an im­por­tant part of the team now for a num­ber of years. He works us around the park re­ally well so he is a great or­gan­iser, he talks re­ally well and you know all the boys know his style of play as well.”

Mel­bourne team­mates Cameron Smith and Will Cham­bers both sur­vived their NRL clash on Mon­day night to join Queens­land in camp last night, while Cowboys prop Matt Scott is ex­pected later to­day af­ter stay­ing in Townsville an ex­tra 48 hours to al­low a cor­ti­sone in­jec­tion in his neck to set­tle.

Ma­roons coach Mal Meninga was con­fi­dent Cronk would have no prob­lems play­ing in the de­cider, even though he has not played a game since he suf­fered a me­dial lig­a­ment tear five weeks ago.

“Cooper is a valu­able mem­ber of our footy team, he is a welcome ad­di­tion to the side,” Meninga said.

“He hasn’t played for a num­ber of weeks but we all know how Cooper pre­pares for a game and how much he looks af­ter him­self.

“He will han­dle the de­cider re­ally, re­ally well and his ex­pe­ri­ence is para­mount for us.”

Meninga in­sisted dumped half­back Daly Cherry- Evans still had a fu­ture in the Ori­gin arena as it takes a while for play­mak­ers to truly find their groove in a new team and in the elite arena.

But it’s what hap­pens to Thurston now that Cronk is back tak­ing most of the heat off their most dan­ger­ous player.

“It al­lows JT to play un­struc­tured footy in a way, it al­lows him to go around the field and do what JT does best and that’s run the ball re­ally well and make re­ally good de­ci­sions,” Meninga said.

“Cooper helps stick to struc­ture and struc­ture is there to han­dle ad­ver­sity and that is what Cooper does re­ally well, he han­dles ad­ver­sity re­ally well for the team ... he gets us in good field po­si­tion.”

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