Cronk reveals his rep future

Cooper Cronk of the Melbourne Storm during last year's NRL preliminary final against the Canberra Raiders.
Cooper Cronk of the Melbourne Storm during last year's NRL preliminary final against the Canberra Raiders. JULIAN SMITH

SUPERSTAR halfback Cooper Cronk has revealed what the future holds for him in the representative arena.

He's also spilt the beans on how his combination with new Melbourne halves partner Cameron Munster will work and what expectations are on Billy Slater.

He sat down for a wide-ranging interview ahead of his 14th season at the top level.


Last month, Johnathan Thurston declared this year will be his swansong at representative level.

The four-time Dally M Medal winner will repay the Cowboys by dedicating his final year to only them.

Cronk has two seasons remaining on his NRL deal but declared he won't be following Thurston into representative retirement at the end of the year.

Turning 34 in December, Cronk has been in career-best form. Feeling fit and with a passion to play at the highest level, the half declared he'll make himself available for Queensland and Australia until the day he hangs up the boots.

"I've never entertained the thought of retiring from rep football," Cronk said.

"I still have a passion for it. As long as my level of play is at a high standard and I get rewarded with being picked in those teams, I don't think I'll ever give it up.

"I love representing Australia and the passion around Origin. I don't see myself any time soon doing anything like that."


Billy Slater has played just eight games over the past two seasons.

A series of shoulder injuries have kept the champion fullback on the sidelines but having returned to contact training during the pre-season, Slater is ready to make his comeback.

That return could come as soon as February 11 when the Storm line up in a trial match on the Sunshine Coast.

Having been on the paddock together since Cronk returned to the club following the Christmas break, the No.7 is excited to see his partner in crime finding his feet.

"I don't want to put pressure on Billy," he said.

"Let's respect what he's going through and the issues he'll face. The way that he's training, the way he's presenting himself and the way he's got that desire to contribute to and influence training sessions, I think Billy Slater will be back to the best possible form that he's produced. I truly believe that."

With Slater back into the swing of training, Cronk said he expected the former Test and Origin star to wear the No.1 come their season-opener in March.

But his immediate focus will be on getting through the trials.

"I'd assume he'll be there. For him to be there, he needs to tick a few boxes physically through the trials," Cronk explained.

"The blessing in disguise of being out for the last two years is he's got energy and enthusiasm that not every 33-year-old has.

"The only thing I can say to people on the outside is that he still has that passion and desire to contribute in every play. The Billy Slater yelling, screaming and zipping from side to side is there at training."


While several players have been training in the halves, take it as read, the Storm's starting halves pairing will be Cronk and Cameron Munster.

With Blake Green now at Manly, the Storm will shift Munster from fullback and on to the left edge in the halves.

Munster is a left-foot kicker but his kicking game is "an asset he needs to work on", according to Cronk.

Fortunately, they have a left boot in Cameron Smith so Cronk expects Munster's attack to be similar to that of last season, despite wearing a different jersey number.

"While we probably don't need an extra kicking option, we need an extra chasing option," Cronk said.

"If we can have Billy and Cameron chasing kicks like a dog ran away with a bone. That will be good for our footy team."

Topics:  billy slater cameron munster cameron smith cooper cronk kangaroos maroons melbourne storm

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