Cronk to take control
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.”