How Cronk became a halfback
The purple No.7 jersey did no come easily for Cooper Cronk, he had to earn it.
Before he would become one of rugby league’s greatest playmakers, the future 300-gamer had to spend the first two years coming predominantly off the bench.
In his first two seasons as a Storm player he started just one game at halfback.
During that time Cronk instead rotated through nearly every position; fullback, hooker, lock and the back row, honing his craft all over the field.
“I always wanted to be a half, I played all my juniors as a half or five eighth but to be honest in 2004 and ’05 I was genuinely happy doing what I was doing,” Cronk said.
“I could have foreseen myself doing that for another four or five years and I was more than content to do that.”
Injuries in 2005 opened the door and Matt Orford’s departure at season’s end saw that door swing wide open.
When Orford left to join the Sea Eagles it saw 131 games of first grade experience leave the Club.
Suddenly the playmaking responsibilities were left to a 22-year-old with just 33 NRL games under his belt.
“I’ve never had this question with Craig, I don’t know why he chose me or didn’t go out and get anyone else but I was given an opportunity,” Cronk said.
“I was told two things in 2006, Craig told me that he’d pick me if I made my tackles and I had a good kicking game so the whole pre-season I practiced tackling and practiced my kicking game.
“Lucky enough for me we played really well that year, we had some really good players, a super good team, we played pretty well and I think that set me up.”
Storm made the Grand Final that year and another four since.
Cronk wearing the No.7 is now customary, not only in purple but in Maroon and Green and Gold.
If not for some patience and a willingness to adapt, who knows if one of the NRL’s greatest halfbacks would have even been a halfback after all.