NRL Grand Final Day 2017- .Picture : NRL Photos /Gregg Porteous

The Big Three era ends

“Cronk to Smith to Slater”

Three names you will not hear or see again side by side on a rugby league field.

Their era officially came to an end on Saturday night following Cooper Cronk’s decision to retire from representative football.

Rather than reach for the tissues, it is the perfect time to reflect on what an incredible journey it has been for “The Big Three”.

That name has never been one that sits comfortable with any of them, such is their humility, however there is no escaping how well it sums up their standing in the game.

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For the last 14 years they have dazzled fans with their freakish telepathy.

Cronk, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater played 232 games alongside each other for Storm.

In that time that took the Club on an incredible run including seven Grand Finals, winning four of them.

Between them they have five Dally M Player of the Year awards, nine Storm Player of the Year awards and three Clive Churchill medals.

Has there been a better trio in rugby league history? It would be hard to argue against that.

What is most impressive is the fact that their combined greatness was not just for one season or even a couple.

The Smith-Slater-Cronk combo has lasted and indeed dominated for well over a decade.

How fitting it was that the last try Melbourne Storm scored this season came from the genius of “The Big Three”.

In the build up to Josh Addo Carr’s try in the 73rd minute, as the Premiership celebrations began to kick in, the trio stepped up for their final curtain call in purple.

“Now Cronk, Smith to Slater, there they are! The super trio! Together!”

That perfect play lasted a merely a second but that second was enough to sum up just how much the three of them will always mean to the purple faithful.

The fact is that we will never see “The Big Three” together again.

That is a thought that may leave you reaching for the tissues to dry your watery eyes.

However Storm fans can take heart in the fact that for 14 years we saw not one, not two but three all-time greats of the game put on a show for us right here in our own backyard.

And should we ever get withdrawal symptoms from their brilliance, we need only grab the remote control or the laptop and turn on what has became their never-ending highlights reel.

“The Big Three” era may be over but it will never be forgotten.

“Cronk to Smith to Slater” – five words that will forever make any Storm fan smile.