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SportCooper Cronk's pending retirement will leave big gap, teammates say

18:06  21 may  2019
18:06  21 may  2019 Source:   msn.com

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Cooper Cronk was the outsider when he quit the Melbourne Storm for the Roosters, but 18 months later, he is leaving a lasting mark on the Sydney-based club. On Monday, the 35-year-old announced his retirement at season' s end, having already clocked up 357 games — the second-highest number

Cooper Cronk retiring , Roosters halfback to announce 2019 will be last season of decorated career. "I've got a lot of people to thank, the Roosters, Storm and family. I'd just like to thank the entire rugby league community," he said with Roosters teammates and coaches watching on at the

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Cooper Cronk was the outsider when he quit the Melbourne Storm for the Roosters, but 18 months later, he is leaving a lasting mark on the Sydney-based club.

On Monday, the 35-year-old announced his retirement at season's end, having already clocked up 357 games — the second-highest number in NRL history.

"It's been one a hell of a ride," Cronk said at the SCG on Monday.

After 14 seasons with the Storm, the Brisbane-born Cronk was ushered into the Roosters' line-up in 2018 to replace the enigmatic halfback, Mitchell Pearce.

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'Forever in its debt': Cooper Cronk ends speculation with retirement announcement. Cronk thanked his former Storm teammates Billy Slater and Cameron Smith, despite ongoing rumours of a feud with the latter. I don’t think thanks cuts it to be honest,” he said . “Those two guys will go down in history.

Roosters halfback Cooper Cronk announces his retirement . Yet while Cronk said he owed a debt of gratitude to Politis and Robinson for allowing him to have his "family and football in the same place", the change of clubs has also enabled him to develop into a better player.

It was both an upsetting and awkward time for Cronk and his future eastern suburbs team mate.

"You can't pick and choose who you want to play with," Roosters captain Boyd Cordner said.

Cooper Cronk's pending retirement will leave big gap, teammates say © Getty Images Cooper Cronk "Higher up [management] decided to go with Cooper and it was very disappointing to see a good mate go in Mitchell Pearce."

Pearce was no longer wanted by the Roosters after a string of off-field indiscretions.

"There were circumstances there," Roosters hooker Jake Friend said.

"The day he got to the Roosters it was business as usual — then you learn you can't fault Cooper as a footballer and a man."

Team mates of Cronk, who is a three-time premiership player, are now lamenting his pending retirement after a short but successful stint with the boys from Bondi.

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Had he stayed in Melbourne, Cooper Cronk ' s greatness may always have been trapped within the ' Big Three' folklore. By his own reckoning, Cronk was the bloke who received passes from future Immortal Cameron Smith, then delivered Sunday's grand final will be Cronk ' s last game before retirement .

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"I thought we had a good culture before he came but he's added since he's been here," Cordner said.

"It's sad to see him go, but it's been a pleasure — he's a true gentleman, his values and morals are higher than anyone else's and I'm proud to call him a mate too."

'You just go numb'

For now, Cronk is focused on back-to-back titles before retirement forces change.

And it's a seismic change, as former Kangaroo, Luke Lewis, knows all too well.

The two-time premiership player, who retired from the NRL at the end of last season, knows what it's like to have football suddenly removed from your routine.

"It's very scary when you get to the end, when you hang up your boots and that last game's played you feel hollow, you really do, you just go numb," Lewis told the Grandstand podcast, Winning Starts on Monday.

"Everything I've done my whole life, my goals I've set have all been based around rugby league so for Cooper, he's a massive goal-setter, so he's going to feel a bit empty when he gets to the end."

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NRL PREMIERSHIP winner Cooper Cronk will hope to add his Midas touch to Greater Western Sydney after joining the club' s coaching staff. Cronk follows the lead of former Melbourne teammate Billy Slater who has been juggling roles at the Storm and AFL outfit St Kilda since his NRL retirement .

Cronk's lasting impression

In more than 100 years of rugby league, only eight players have been granted the game's ultimate status as an immortal, with Newcastle legend, Andrew Johns, the last to be anointed in 2012.

Roosters coach Trent Robinson said when the time comes, Cronk — a two-time Dally M winner — deserves to have his name added to that illustrious list.

His captain agrees.

"He's definitely got the credentials to be an immortal, playing with him and the career he's had I don't think anybody could dream of those accolades," said Cornder.

Cronk's commitment to his new club — on and off the field — has left a lasting impression on his Roosters teammates.

In last year's grand final, he played with a 10-centimetre fracture in his shoulder blade.

The Roosters claimed the premiership over Cronk's former side, the Melbourne Storm, by 21 points to six.

"It's amazing, mind-blowing to think how he got himself up for that game," Cordner added.

"We knew how bad the injury was — we were preparing to be without him — but it goes to show what the bloke's all about his leadership and presence helped us win that night.

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As a clearly busted Cooper Cronk played a hugely restricted grand final role for the Roosters, a stunned Ph Rugby league guru and Nine commentator Phil Gould has paid tribute to busted playmaker Cooper Cronk for his ability to guide the Roosters to Grand Final victory virtually with one

I got hoes that I'm keepin' in the dark I got my niggas 'cross the street livin' large Thinkin' back to the fact that they dead Thought my raps wasn't facts 'til they sat with the bars I got two phones, one need a charge Yeah, they twins, I could tell they ass apart I got big packs comin' on the.

"That is heroic and something I'll never forget and will go down in the history books."

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