The Roosters, Cooper Cronk? Say it aint so

Matt Cleary Columnist

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    Hey Cooper Cronk? The word is you’re thinking about playing for the Roosters. And that is of course your choice.

    But I believe not at all presumptively that I speak for all fans, indeed all of this greatest game of all rugby league when I say this.

    Say it aint so, Cooper Cronk. Say that it aint so.

    Not the Roosters. Not anyone.

    But not the Roosters.

    Know what I’m saying? The dear reader(s) know what I’m saying. They know absolutely full well what I’m saying.

    And what I’m saying is this, Cooper Cronk: should you play for the Roosters, it will not sit well with us at all.

    Not at all.

    Now, yes, of course, Cooper Cronk – and let’s everyone rip off their best Dr Evil – one miiillioooon dollars is still a very good chunk of coin and if you can earn it at the Chooks because Mr Politis has sold more Fords than Henry Ford, then good luck to you, one supposes, it’s a business you’re in after all and you’re only in it for so long and … make hay … and…

    No. I can’t do it. To coin a phrase from Australia’s great thinker Pauline Hanson: I don’t like it. And please explain.

    But Cooper Cronk? True story: I dinkum do not like it. I don’t like you at the Roosters.

    Don’t-don’t-don’t.

    Matt Moylan of the Blues beats Cooper Cronk of the Maroons to the ball

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    Of course! What does it matter what I don’t like, Cooper Cronk? What does my opinion that you going to the cashed-up Roosters (and more on these people shortly) would dull your legacy as a one-club Storm boy who turned up in Melbourne as a 20-year-old bit parts utility back-rower, or something, who through sheer dogged persistence and the work ethic of a speed-addled Amish barn-builder built yourself into the best No.7 in the land?

    What does it matter that to see you running about in the tri-colours of Eastern Suburbs Roosters would be like Dennis Lillee having a Sheffield Shield season with Tasmania aged 38.

    Like Channel Nine thawing out Hey Hey it’s Saturday and bringing back black-face to entertain Harry Connick Jr.

    Maybe not that bad. But bad, man. Bad.

    Of course! My opinion means nothing. Only thing that matters, Cooper Cronk, is that you’re happy and tooling about in the eastern suburbs in one of uncle Nick’s Mustang GT Convertibles with the top down sucking on a quinoa and ginseng smoothie, or something equally slimming and horrendous, brother, as long as you’re cool with that we’re all cool with out, peace out.

    Of course none of that is true.

    Not the Mustang bit, not the hideous green chunky drink thing bit.

    And not the fact that I’m cool with you playing for the Roosters – or anyone else in Sydney for that matter – in season 2018.

    I’m not okay with it, Cooper Cronk. I hope I have made myself clear.

    (Of course if you absolutely had to play for someone in 2018 you should play for Canberra Raiders because your skills and speedy smarts are what the Raiders need to pilot their funky-bunch of mad kids around the park, much as Aiden Sezer goes okay, he’s not as good as you, with all due respect to Aiden Sezer, but it is true.)

    Now.

    Don’t play for the Roosters, Cooper Cronk! Not the Roosters!

    Consider: How can it be, Cooper Cronk? How can the Roosters add a million dollar halfback to a team that already has a million dollar halfback – Mitchell Pearce – and is gaining a million dollar fullback in James Tedesco?

    Mitchell Pearce Sydney Roosters NRL Rugby League Finals 2017

    (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

    I’ve never been great at maths, Cooper Cronk, and the nuance and dark art of “third party agreements” agreed upon by management is lost on me like how CPI affects the All Ordinaries, whatever they are.

    But there’s $3 million for three players.

    And then you’ve got Dylan Napa, Jared Waerea-Hargeaves, Luke Keary, Boyd Cordner, Jake Friend, Michael Gordon, Mitch Aubusson and Blake Ferguson.

    Aiden Guerra’s gone, true, and that’ll free up some coin, as did the departure of fellow Knights-man Shaun Kenny-Dowall.

    But would it be outrageous to suggest that these eight players’ salaries average out to $500k per man? And thus cost $4 million?

    And that $3 million plus $4 million is $7 million? And the salary cap is $9.4 million.

    And that Dale Copley, Isaac Liu, Latrell Mitchell, Daniel Tupou, Kane Evans and Sio Siua Taukeiaho aren’t there on work experience.

    Tell me I’m wrong.

    Of course, it’s nothing to do you with you, Cooper Cronk, all this head office malarkey.

    And truth be told I don’t really care how much blokes are on, or how much a club is spending, market forces should run a business like rugby league and a “cap” on how much clubs can spend is an artificial edifice that thins out the comp’s talent and moves players around just when fans are starting to feel like they own them, another story.

    I’ll tell you another story I heard, Cooper Cronk. Few years ago you were really, really close to signing with St George Illawarra Dragons.

    Cooper Cronk Billy Slater

    (Digital Image Grant Trouville © nrlphotos.com)

    The Dragons believed they had you. They were prepared to pay what needed to be paid. Your market rate was NRL best practice. You were among the elite, the million dollar men. Saints were going to open the Taj Mahal and tell you to back up the ute so they could scoop the rivers of gold roll right in.

    So money was not an issue. But you stayed in Melbourne because, ultimately, you couldn’t play against Cam and Billy and the Hoff, and of course dear old Bellyache.

    Has that changed? For now you’re in Sydney and have bought a house on the lower north-shore not far from the Harbour Tunnel and it’s 30 minutes commute from there to Moore Park on a bad day and all the journos are saying things “won’t go away” which means it’s a warm story still.

    Say it aint so, Cooper Cronk.

    Say that it aint so.

    Matt Cleary
    Matt Cleary

    Matt Cleary is a sports writer from Sydney. He enjoys golf, footy and Four Pines Pale Ale, and spends as much time as conscience allows at Long Reef GC. Tweet him @journomatcleary, or read him at his website.

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