Cooper Cronk has a chance to depart Melbourne with a fairytale NRL premiership but club skipper Cameron Smith has warned life doesn’t always work out like that.
Cronk will play his final game in a purple jersey during next Sunday’s season decider in what promises to be an emotion-charged game for the club as they farewell one of their greatest servants.
The champion No.7 is still keeping his cards close to his chest and wouldn’t reveal whether he will retire or move to a Sydney-based club next year.
While he said he doesn’t expect to make a decision until after the grand final, his departure has given the side plenty of motivation heading into their second successive grand final.
“Not at the moment,” Cronk said when asked if the desire to retire had struck him.
“There’s been occasions when you’re walking through the hallways or the locker room thinking ‘Aww, is this the last time I do it?’
“I’ve really been cold-hearted and non-emotional about it.
“Whenever I do it, I slap myself over the back of the head and say ‘What’s my job? What’s my role? How can I get better?’
“When it’s all done and dusted, no matter the result, I’ll probably fall in a heap.”
Cronk played his last game in front of his home crowd in the Storm’s 30-0 rout of Brisbane in Friday’s preliminary final and in typical fashion he refused to be chaired off the ground.
While being able to send out Cronk, arguably one of the game’s greatest-ever halfbacks, as a title-winner would be fitting, Smith warned his side not to get swept up in the emotion.
“I’m glad we get another opportunity to play together, one more game,” Smith said.
“It’d be nice to send him out a winner. That’d be ideal.
“You talk about fairytales and that would be one – but unfortunately fairtytales don’t happen all the time. We’ve got to make it happen.”