‘Stu­dent’ Croft ready to show he’s real deal

Sunday Territorian - - NRL GRAND FINAL - MICHAEL CARAYANNIS

DANNY Buderus had heard all the com­par­isons. But even the New­cas­tle le­gend was blown away with just how much Brodie Croft re­minded him of Cooper Cronk.

“I couldn’t be­lieve the sim­i­lar­i­ties and char­ac­ter­is­tics that I was watch­ing,” Buderus said. “His physique and how pro­fes­sional he was. Even the way he spoke.

“He had the hat turned back­wards at train­ing – I’ve seen Cooper do that. Brodie has taken ev­ery­thing that he has learnt from Cooper on board.” Just last year Croft and Storm team­mate Cur­tis Scott, plus the Syd­ney Roost­ers fire­brand Vic­tor Radley, were un­der the watch­ful eye of Buderus as part of the Ju­nior Kan­ga­roos. Buderus was the as­sis­tant coach who saw Croft win man-of-the-match hon­ours with a 46-22 win.

“He al­ways made the team to go back to train­ing with some­thing to work on af­ter a drinks break,” Buderus said. “He was well above his age with com­po­sure and he was so com­fort­able lead­ing the team around.

“I was im­pressed with how he com­mu­ni­cated. The con­fi­dence he had to tell his team­mate that ‘I’m your half, fol­low me’. I thought that was a big thing and he was go­ing to make a huge im­pact in first grade.

Croft has said Cronk was his “idol” with the pair work­ing closely to­gether for two years be­fore Cronk’s de­par­ture. Cronk lent Croft a help­ing hand this year even when his re­place­ment was dropped from the Storm set-up. And in the un­likely event Cronk is fit, they will square off for the first time in the NRL this evening with Croft aim­ing to be the least ex­pe­ri­enced half­back in 71 years to win a grand fi­nal.

“I’ve loved the way Mel­bourne have han­dled Croft this year,” Buderus said.

“At most clubs the way he played week in week out most would say great but down in Mel­bourne they gave him a taste and then said come back we want you to work on a few things.”

The Ju­nior Kan­ga­roos was a star-stud­ded side which fea­tured Jesse Ramien and Cameron Mur­ray. Buderus said he en­joyed “ev­ery­thing about the way Radley plays”.

“He took no pris­on­ers,” Buderus said. “He was some­one who em­braced and set the cul­ture of the team. He was the man to do that for us. He was the one that doesn’t have to com­mu­ni­cate. He com­mu­ni­cates with his ac­tions.”

“I’ve loved the way Storm have han­dled Croft” DANNY BUDERUS

Pic­ture: MARK KOLBE/GETTY

Mel­bourne is de­pend­ing on young gun Brodie Croft fir­ing in this evening’s NRL Grand Fi­nal against the Roost­ers

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