Kangaroos fullback Billy Slater believes there's still a possibility Cooper Cronk decides to retire from the NRL, but insists the looming defection to a Sydney club will not tarnish his legacy at the Melbourne Storm.
As the 'big three' prepare to play their final game together in Melbourne in Friday night's World Cup opener against England, the future of Cronk remains a hot topic of interest inside the Kangaroos camp.
Cronk has asked his manager, George Mimis, to field offers from interested clubs but Slater suggests there's a possibility the halfback calls it a day if the planets don't align for him at the Roosters or a rival Sydney club.
"I wouldn't be surprised if he decides to retire or play on to be honest," Slater told NRL.com
"His body is in a good shape so I wouldn't be surprised either way. It's up to him to decide if he wants to play on."
There's been a suggestion Cronk would risk ruining his legacy at the Storm if he doesn't finish his career a one-club player.
Slater rubbished such claims, admitting nothing would change the contribution the Queensland and Australian halfback has made to the Storm since making his debut way back in 2004.
"For what Cooper has done in Melbourne at the Storm, his legacy won't be jeopardised if he plays at another club," Slater said.
"He has done an amazing job and set a high standard every time he trains or takes the field. He’s shown a lot of young guys the right way."
For Slater, Friday night's clash against England will end a three and a half year wait to return to the green and gold after an injury-plagued few seasons at the Storm.
Forget about whether he thought that he would ever make it back into the international arena, because Slater’s fears were far worse.
"There were definitely fears my career was over and my body wouldn't let me play again, let alone play for Australia," Slater said.
"I didn't think that far down the track. I really just wanted to get back to a point where I could play in the NRL again. If I did that, then the rest would take care of itself.
"I take great honour and pride whenever I get the opportunity to represent my country. With what has happened the past two or three years not playing a Test for over three years, that all makes this a little bit sweeter. But it’s not about being named in the side. It’s about the contribution I make now that I'm in it."