Cronk ready for final time
Roosters half caps emotions as he prepares for record ninth NRL decider
IT’S not lost on Cooper Cronk that Sunday night doubles as an exercise in finality.
That the NRL grand final will mark the 375th and final time the champion halfback runs out of the tunnel as part of a team.
That it will be the final of nine deciders — a feat achieved more often than missed over 16 richly decorated seasons with Melbourne Storm and the Sydney Roosters.
And the final time he compartmentalises his emotions to ensure such an occasion does not get the better of him.
“It’s just about putting it in its right box,” Cronk said.
“If you let it overwhelm you it might be a good thing or a bad thing. Emotion can play that part where it might help you or might hinder you.
“But I know exactly the place to put it, and time will tell if it works on Sunday.
“There’ll be some times when I might be a little bit emotional and nostalgic about things.
“But I tell you what, I’ll go watch some clips of Josh Papalii and that’ll straighten me right up.”
Speaking of, it’ll also be the final 80 minutes played with or against Canberra prop Papalii, Cronk’s former Queensland teammate.
But along with the lasts, Sunday will also bring firsts.
Most notably, Cronk’s inauguration as the first NRLera player to contest nine grand finals.
And the first to do it in almost half a century, since South Sydney and Roosters great Ron Coote became a nonagenarian in 1975.
Only St George legends Norm Provan and Brian 'Poppa' Clay have made it to 10.
At ANZ Stadium the 35year-old will equal Coote and another Dragons stalwart Eddie Lumsden on nine.
Beat the Raiders and he’ll have won six of them, although two of the Storm’s titles were stripped.
“The players in the Dragons era of the ’50s and ’60s,” Cronk said. “I look back on guys who played those 10 out of 11, they were the pioneers for football today.
“The success they had, the players they had, the way they set up football back in those days allows us to do what we do today.
“I think I’m a result of the people, the teams, the cultures I’ve been a part of.
“Whether I’ve played a few or one or it’s a first, (the key) to playing well on Sunday is to deal with the week and go and compete with every inch you’ve got, for the last time.”
GREAT CAREER: Cooper Cronks last NRL game will be his ninth is grand final.