Cronk ready for fi­nal time

Roost­ers half caps emo­tions as he pre­pares for record ninth NRL de­cider

The Western Star - - Sport | Nrl Grand Final 2019 - EMMA KEMP

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.”

PHOTO: AAP

GREAT CA­REER: Cooper Cronks last NRL game will be his ninth is grand fi­nal.

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