Former teammates brace for big stage
They played four games together as Storm teammates but on Sunday Cooper Cronk and James Maloney will line up as opposing playmakers on the biggest stage.
Maloney spent just the one season in Melbourne back in 2009 and will this weekend spearhead the Sharks’ attack in the NRL Grand Final.
Cronk is well accustomed to playing against his former teammate, having gone head to head with Maloney at both NRL and Origin level over the last several seasons.
In the build up to what will be their most important meeting on the biggest stage, the Storm halfback took the time to acknowledge what his counterpart has achieved since departing Melbourne.
“I think James needs a lot of credit for what he has done at the Cronulla Sharks football team this year,” Cronk said.
“James wasn’t at our Club a long period of time but the one thing is that James must bring something special to a football team because each team he has been a part of he has made a Grand Final.
“He is a charismatic guy off the field but he is also a tenacious competitor and brings a lot of calmness to their football team.
“He’ll be a vital player in terms of the outcome of the game come Sunday, Craig will do his homework and hopefully we will have a plan to limit him because you can’t stop him, we’ll just try to limit his ability and influence.”
That planning will also extend to Maloney’s teammates who showed how damaging they can be with a 12-point win over the reigning premiers last week.
“Our coach is a very well prepared coach, he prepares us within an inch of our lives,” Cronk said.
“He’ll do his analysis on individuals and team structure that Cronulla will provide us and come game day we will be very prepared with what Cronulla will throw at us and we can hopefully put some structures in place to hopefully combat that.
“You can try and dissect and analyse this game as much as possible but it will come down to whoever executes their game plan the best on Sunday.”