The self-made Champion

Melbourne Storm only gave Cooper Cronk an opportunity, it’s what he has done with it that has seen him become one of the NRL’s all-time greats.

As the rugby league world prepares to induct its 25th member into the 300 Club, it is also time to reflect on how the champion halfback got there.

Shifted around between various positions during his first few seasons, few would have expected Cronk to become the player he is today.

It all started with a single chance that he took with both hands and has never looked back.

 “The Club gave him an opportunity but at the end of the day he worked so hard at refining and developing the skills he needed to have to be a halfback,” coach Craig Bellamy said.

“I don’t think I’ve seen anyone work as hard on his game skill-wise than Cooper did, especially the first 18 months.

“He still continues to work really hard but it was quite remarkable the amount of work he put into his knowledge of the game. You’d walk into the Club and he’d be there watching video.

“A lot of it was self taught to be quite honest, he had little bit of help from Matty Johns, a little bit of help from some of our assistant coaches but at the end of the day it was his want, hard work and putting the repetitions in that was quite remarkable. I’ve never seen a player ever do that.”

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The hard work has clearly paid off.

A Daly M and Clive Churchill medalist, Cronk’s resume is up there with the best of them and every single one of his accolades has been earned on the back of the work he has put in.

“At times some people do go a long way on their talent, Cooper has gone a long way on the talent he’s been given through hard work,” Bellamy said.

“Like Smithy, he’s got a great appetite to want to keep improving. At their age some people would be thinking they’ve done it all and they don’t need to learn anymore but they’ve still got a hunger to play the game and they’ve still got a hunger to get better.

“I think when they lose the hunger that will be the time for them to walk out the door but there is certainly no sign of that. They’re great competitors, great players and great people.”