Croft anointed Cronk’s Storm heir apparent

By , Steve Zemek is a Roar Guru

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    Just like Cooper Cronk, Brodie Croft is different.

    At just 20, the up-and-coming Melbourne halfback is already having comparisons drawn between him and Cronk.

    And that was before tearing Newcastle to shreds while filling in for the Australian playmaker in the Storm’s 44-12 win on Saturday afternoon.

    Like Cronk, Croft is a clean-cut Queenslander, unfailingly polite and meticulous to the point of being neurotic.

    As Storm coach Craig Bellamy puts it: “They’re both anal about their preparation.”

    At his age, most young men are interested in drinking, girls and fast cars.

    Croft lists his hobbies as eating a balanced diet, meditating and getting enough sleep.

    Likening Croft to Cronk is an easy parallel to draw – especially considering Bellamy has stated that Croft is now the frontrunner to assume Cronk’s No.7 jumper next year.

    However there’s substance to it.

    Throughout his career, Cronk has often been lampooned for his peculiar outlook on life – his “fire in the village” quote sits in the pantheon of great rugby league sayings.

    But that’s where he and Croft are similar – they’re both unique, driven to better themselves and share a rare verve for rugby league.

    “Ever since I was young I wanted to stand out from the crowd,” Croft said.

    “I’ve always done things a little different and people have even questioned me for the way I go about my business – whether I need to do things so strictly, so disciplined.

    “It’s actually something I’ve been trying to work on, I was told by the coaches to loosen up a little, have a bit more flair.”

    As Cronk’s understudy, starts have been few and far between for Croft since his debut midway through last year but he has made every post a winner.

    After booting the winning field goal in their golden-point win against North Queensland earlier in the season, he starred with three tries and two try assists against the Knights on Saturday.

    Having grown up in Highfields, just outside of Toowoomba in southern Queensland, Croft came through right under the noses of Brisbane.

    He was in the Broncos’ developmental system in his early teens but never offered a contract.

    “It was a kick up the guts,” Croft said.

    He was continually overlooked for representative teams and it wasn’t until he moved to Brisbane to attend the prestigious Churchie private school in grade 11 that he caught the attention of the Storm.

    “I never made any major rep teams as a junior, got knocked back a lot, had a lot of tough times where I doubted myself whether I could go all the way,” he said.

    “The persistence was there and that’s made me more grateful for what I have at the moment.”

    © AAP 2017