Gareth Ellis: Great to see crocked Cooper Cronk inspire Sydney Roosters to NRL Grand Final triumph

A LOT of people will be talking about Cooper Cronk today and that shoulder injury.

Cooper Cronk
Cooper Cronk

Obviously, I watched the NRL Grand Final and Sydney Roosters were deserved 21-6 winners over Melbourne Storm.

But these games bring the heroics out in people don’t they?

The actual final series itself has been something I’ve been looking forward to with all the drama building up nicely towards these two teams.

First v second on the table and then the drama during the week it was always going to be about Cronk – would he, wouldn’t he be fit to play with his shoulder – and Billy Slater, would he or wouldn’t he get off with that shoulder charge?

Having been there myself I can just imagine the media interest; I read an article about Cronk going through about four back doors to get away from the media!

It was probably not a classic but if ever a game was won on defence that was it. Storm tried to target Cronk but he’s smart.

You know fans shout about the trainer wearing the yellow T-shirt running on and coaching?

Well, Cooper Cronk could have had worn one of those yellow T-shirts in that Grand Final!

He was almost like a coach on the field. He didn’t get involved in much – he didn’t kick the ball as much, didn’t actually pass very often and that was left to Luke Keary who got man of the match and stood out in his absence.

But in terms of coaching, organisation, telling people where they should be and what they need to do Cooper Cronk was at the heart of that.

I wasn’t surprised Roosters went with him despite that injury. When you think of who he is and what he’s done in the game, we’re talking about a future Immortal. As soon as he put his hand up to play he was in.

The question any player will ask himself when injured is ‘am I going to be a liability to my team of will I help it?’ I’m sure he’ll have asked himself that many a time during the week but will then have come to an agreement with the coach on the decision.

You could see him barking orders and the team around him rose to that. I imagine the Roosters got more out of every player as they will have known Cronk wasn’t going to be involved as much and they needed to help him out. And defensively they did everything they could to dominate Melbourne. But in those situations – making a call on playing with injuries and we have all done it – you have to remember you are out there as a player. No one is thinking you’re out there as an injured player. You’re there to play.

If you miss a tackle you can’t blame it on that injury. You’ve just missed a tackle. You have to face the consequences. If Cooper Cronk had a shocking game and missed five or six tackles he’d have got an absolute grilling. As it happens, he didn’t miss one.

Roosters were clearly the better team. That first half was as good as a performance as I’ve seen. Not flamboyant but real mean in defence and full of energy. Very impressive.

When we were over there in February with Hull FC, we trained with Roosters and the coach – Trent Robinson – told me then if they didn’t achieve something the blame would be on them as coaches as rosta wise it was right up there. Well, they did it. And it was a terrific effort.