NRL Grand Final
NRL Grand Final

Cronk says he’d grab Smith by throat again

Cooper Cronk will again grab Cameron Smith around the throat - if necessary.

"But you watch any game where I've been hit late," the Roosters No. 7 said. "If I have the ability to get up off the ground, I'll try and stand up for myself."

Only days out from what could be his NRL farewell, Cronk opened up on a perceived feud with Melbourne skipper Smith and that famous photograph during the 2018 grand final which should dominate every campaign promoting Saturday's blockbuster at the SCG.

Cronk is sweet with the Cronk versus Smith storyline, so long as everything around it is done respectfully.

As for using that ANZ ­Stadium image which has become a tad iconic?

"Oh, I wouldn't call it iconic," Cronk said. "That's an exaggeration, that is."

Maybe, but good luck finding a footy fan anywhere who hasn't seen, screen-shotted or attempted to interpret it.

The night the throat grab went down last October, Cronk not only upset the same Storm club he had sweated with for 14 years - and with a busted scapula - he seemed to confirm whispers that he and his once inseparable mate had suffered a spectacular falling out.

And what spins rugby league turnstiles better than rivalry?

 

Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith come to grips during last year’s Grand Final. Picture: Brett Costello
Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith come to grips during last year’s Grand Final. Picture: Brett Costello

 

Which is why, when he fronted a media scrum outside Roosters HQ on Monday, we wanted to know what Cronk thought of the image.

"I can answer that easily," he said of a picture taken ­milliseconds after Smith appeared to hit him late. "There was no angst or malice in it."

None at all?

"Let me give you the background," Cronk said. "I had a sore shoulder and they (Storm) were coming for me.

"So that could have been Cameron Munster or Jesse Bromwich … I was kicking the football and it's their job to put pressure on and make me miss my kick.

 

An image grab from Cameron Smith's Facebook page as part of his tribute to Cooper Cronk.
An image grab from Cameron Smith's Facebook page as part of his tribute to Cooper Cronk.

 

"But I'm also not going to sit there and let everyone attack (late). In moments like that, you've also got to stand up for yourself."

Which Cronk did, in the process upping talk of a rivalry which includes whispers of wedding snubs, handshakes instead of hugs, and that image which wouldn't look out of place in a prison exercise yard.

Yet when asked if the pair remained buddies, Cronk said: "Yeah, absolutely. And in my entire career, Cameron's the player I respect most.

"Without his influence, I don't have the moments I've had to look back on when I'm 60 and say 'yeah, it's pretty cool I achieved that'."

 

Cooper Cronk sports a black eye at Moore Park ahead of the Roosters' clash with Melbourne at the SCG on Saturday. Picture: Brett Costello
Cooper Cronk sports a black eye at Moore Park ahead of the Roosters' clash with Melbourne at the SCG on Saturday. Picture: Brett Costello

 

Cronk described recent criticism of Smith for everything from wingnut tackles to diamond rings as "unwarranted", and said he hadn't seen Smith's sin-binning against Parramatta because he was watching the rugby.

Still, the Queensland great has no problem with anyone using Cronk versus Smith to market Saturday night's SCG blockbuster - a game which could be his last.

"Yeah, I'm OK with that," he said. "So long as it's done respectfully, I'm all for what gets people excited about this game.

"And as I've said since round 24, I stopped doing my stuff at Fox Sports. So market the hell out of it. I won't see it."

 

 

Stream every match of the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership Finals Series before the Grand Final Live & On-Demand on KAYO SPORTS. Get your 14 day free trial and start streaming instantly >

 

 

 

Stream every match of the 2019 NRL Telstra Premiership Finals Series before the Grand Final Live & On-Demand on KAYO SPORTS. Get your 14 day free trial and start streaming instantly >

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