Cronk commitment secures Champion trio
On the day he re-signed with the Club, Cooper Cronk spoke of his gratitude for being lucky enough to play under one of the greatest coaches in NRL history.
The coach also revealed that the feeling is well and truly mutual.
Craig Bellamy arrived at Melbourne Storm in 2004 at the same time a young kid from Brisbane walked through the door, desperate for an opportunity to prove himself at the highest level.
Fast track 13 seasons and years of unforgettable memories, coach and player sat side by side on Friday as the latter announced he would remain a one-club man.
“I was always really hopeful that he’d stay. It is just the right thing for him to finish his career here,” Bellamy said.
“There were a couple of times where I was a little bit worried but at the end of the day he was going to make a decision that was going to be right for everybody and we are really glad that he is staying.”
Cronk’s decision to re-sign with Storm for a further two years has all but ensured he, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater will play out the remainder of their careers in the purple jersey.
For a coach who has overseen the careers of all three future Hall of Famers, it is a sentiment he is proud to be a part of.
“Without a doubt it has been a pretty special relationship, I started my coaching career when they started their playing career in the NRL,” Bellamy said.
“It has been a long journey and there has been a lot of special moments and learning experiences along the way. We are pretty sure now that they are going to finish their careers at Melbourne Storm where they started it.
“These days players probably swap clubs more than they ever have and to have three key position players playing at the one Club for so long and at such a high level, it is really special.
“I couldn’t imagine that sort of thing ever happening again. It is a bit romantic in a footy sense and I feel very blessed to be a little part of it.”
Storm’s champion trio have seen their careers follow a uniquely parrell path over the journey.
That is a rare thing in the modern game and something they know has formed a special bond between them.
“We all arrived at Melbourne Storm, I can’t really explain why,” Cronk said.
“Cameron used to pick me up to go to training at Brisbane Norths, Billy used to come from Innisfail and we all met, played football and the rest is history.
“There is no doubt we’ve inspired one another on and off the field in our performances and as people.
“We’ve shared special moments in milestones on and off the field. It is a nice storyline that we will hold close to our hearts when time sets on our careers.
“I am excited to see what 2016 and beyond will bring.”