RUGBY LEAGUE: Cooper Cronk has adamantly declared he wants the Roosters to keep Mitchell Pearce, describing the club's incumbent halfback as "a lure” that helped to secure his signature.
In his first interview since signing with the Tricolours, Cronk told NRL 360 he had phoned Pearce on Monday to assure him he wasn't trying to replace the No.7.
While Cronk wouldn't go into specifics about the phone call, he said the Roosters would have their best chance of success in 2018 if Pearce and Luke Keary remained to complement him.
It's just the latest twist in a fascinating story, with Pearce meeting with Roosters coach Trent Robinson on Monday to clear the air over his future.
It is still unclear whether Pearce will decide to stay on in what shapes as the most potent playmaking structure in the game or request a release and enter talks with the three clubs lining up for his services - Manly, Newcastle and Cronulla.
For his part, Cronk hopes Pearce can be convinced to stay.
"I had a chat to Mitchell earlier today, I won't go into specifics or anything like that but it wasn't about me convincing or preaching or anything like that,” Cronk said.
"Mitchell's been front and centre at the Roosters for a long time and as I said he's got an arsenal of weapons to play in the halves that I think he can dominate.
"And there's a few things I think I can help him with and there's a lot of things I think he can help me with, so there's going to be a lot of things that we can do together.
"That's my preferred option, that everyone stays and buys into the Roosters culture, which I'm going to have to dive into and understand as quickly as possible.
"From my point of view, as long as everyone's got the ability to work hard, be selfless, and when it comes down to the crunch put the team first, then I'm sure that no matter what system or players Trent chooses on a Saturday night or a Friday night, whatever timeslot we play, I'm sure the best team will be out on the paddock.”
Cronk said he hadn't had specific discussions with Robinson about the best fit for all the playmaking personnel currently on the club's books, should they all stay for 2018 and beyond.
He did however reveal their meeting had involved discussion about "style of play” that's likely to dictate the eventual halves pairing.
"We haven't had those specific conversations about how it looks like, we just spoke about a style of play, some trends around the game and things like that,” Cronk said.
"But I will say this, one of the exciting things and the lures to play at the Roosters was to play alongside Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary.
"Both those kids have an arsenal of weapons to dominate in the halves and for me to come along and play with them and help them a little bit, they're definitely going to teach me something as well.
"I don't see my game being the end product, I think I can improve and get better and there's some traits that Mitchell has that I think I can learn off and there's some traits that I have that they might be able to learn off as well.”
While Cronk has now got clarity around his club future, with a two-year deal likely to bring his career to an end at the Roosters, he is still yet to make a decision about whether he plays on for Queensland and Australia.
Cronk is the starting halfback for both teams and, with the Kangaroos looking in good shape to hoist the World Cup in just over a month, it could be considered a good time to finish up and focus on his new club.
Cronk said he hadn't yet had a chance to think that through, leaving the door open to continue in the Origin and Test arena.
"I haven't considered that. I very much enjoy playing for Australia, it's the pinnacle of our game and what Mal Meninga's doing here with the rise and this World Cup,” Cronk said.
"This was the best time for me to announce it, I didn't want to do anything leading into that England game and we've got a World Cup to try to be victorious in and play really well, so this was the best time to announce it, in terms of the Roosters contract for 2018 and 2019.
"But I didn't want to hijack what we're trying to do here for Australia, and that's be competitive and hopefully stand at the top of the dais at the end of this tournament.
"So in terms of a decision, I'm not really sure of what my representative future holds but I can guarantee you right now I'll be doing everything I possibly can to help the green and gold be successful this year.”
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