Crocked Cronk in­spires Roost­ers to Grand Fi­nal tri­umph

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - RUGBY LEAGUE - Gareth El­lis ■ Email: yp.sport@ypn.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @YPS­port

A LOT of peo­ple will be talk­ing about Cooper Cronk to­day and that shoul­der in­jury.

Ob­vi­ously, I watched the NRL Grand Fi­nal and Syd­ney Roost­ers were de­served 21-6 win­ners over Mel­bourne Storm.

But these games bring the hero­ics out in peo­ple don’t they?

The ac­tual fi­nal se­ries it­self has been some­thing I’ve been look­ing for­ward to with all the drama build­ing up nicely to­wards these two teams.

First v se­cond on the ta­ble and then the drama dur­ing the week it was al­ways go­ing to be about Cronk – would he, wouldn’t he be fit to play with his shoul­der – and Billy Slater, would he or wouldn’t he get off with that shoul­der charge?

Hav­ing been there my­self I can just imag­ine the me­dia in­ter­est; I read an ar­ti­cle about Cronk go­ing through about four back doors to get away from the me­dia!

It was prob­a­bly not a clas­sic but if ever a game was won on de­fence that was it. Storm tried to tar­get Cronk but he’s smart.

You know fans shout about the trainer wear­ing the yel­low T-shirt run­ning on and coach­ing?

Well, Cooper Cronk could have had worn one of those yel­low T-shirts in that Grand Fi­nal!

He was al­most like a coach on the field. He didn’t get in­volved in much – he didn’t kick the ball as much, didn’t ac­tu­ally pass very of­ten and that was left to Luke Keary who got man of the match and stood out in his ab­sence.

But in terms of coach­ing, or­gan­i­sa­tion, telling peo­ple where they should be and what they need to do Cooper Cronk was at the heart of that.

I wasn’t sur­prised Roost­ers went with him de­spite that in­jury. When you think of who he is and what he’s done in the game, we’re talk­ing about a fu­ture Im­mor­tal. As soon as he put his hand up to play he was in.

The ques­tion any player will ask him­self when in­jured is ‘am I go­ing to be a li­a­bil­ity to my team of will I help it?’ I’m sure he’ll have asked him­self that many a time dur­ing the week but will then have come to an agree­ment with the coach on the de­ci­sion.

You could see him bark­ing or­ders and the team around him rose to that. I imag­ine the Roost­ers got more out of ev­ery player as they will have known Cronk wasn’t go­ing to be in­volved as much and they needed to help him out. And de­fen­sively they did ev­ery­thing they could to dom­i­nate Mel­bourne. But in those sit­u­a­tions – mak­ing a call on play­ing with in­juries and we have all done it – you have to re­mem­ber you are out there as a player. No one is think­ing you’re out there as an in­jured player. You’re there to play.

If you miss a tackle you can’t blame it on that in­jury. You’ve just missed a tackle. You have to face the con­se­quences. If Cooper Cronk had a shock­ing game and missed five or six tack­les he’d have got an ab­so­lute grilling. As it hap­pens, he didn’t miss one.

Roost­ers were clearly the bet­ter team. That first half was as good as a per­for­mance as I’ve seen. Not flam­boy­ant but real mean in de­fence and full of en­ergy. Very im­pres­sive.

When we were over there in Fe­bru­ary with Hull FC, we trained with Roost­ers and the coach – Trent Robin­son – told me then if they didn’t achieve some­thing the blame would be on them as coaches as rosta wise it was right up there. Well, they did it. And it was a ter­rific ef­fort.

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