Croft anointed Cronk’s Storm heir apparent

By Steve Zemek, 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 2018

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • Roar Rookie

      August 20th 2017 @ 7:22am
      Joe said | August 20th 2017 @ 7:22am | ! Report

      Croft was outstanding yesterday. Great running game with a lot of pace. Pretty good kicking game and a cool head. Also took some big hits early but bounced back up so he is tough as well. Another Broncos reject makes it at the Storm. That is why Bellamy is rated so highly. ..takes rejects and turns them into decent first graders.

      • August 20th 2017 @ 8:06am
        Jimmmy said | August 20th 2017 @ 8:06am | ! Report

        Gee he looked good Joe. He is such a composed young fella. Great decision making and what a running game. Cronk is irreplaceable but Croft will go close.

    • August 20th 2017 @ 9:38am
      AGordon said | August 20th 2017 @ 9:38am | ! Report

      I still think the jury’s out on Croft. No dispute he played a great game yesterday but lets put that in some perspective. He was playing against the team coming last in the team coming first by a zillion points. He had the likes of Smith & Slater to help guide him around the park in a full strength Storm side that’s odd’s on to win the premiership.

      Let’s see whether he holds up as Smith, Slater and co retire. He and Munster in particular will need to step up and it remains to be seen whether they can or not.

      • Roar Rookie

        August 20th 2017 @ 10:08am
        Flat White said | August 20th 2017 @ 10:08am | ! Report

        I kinda think that’s the point. He will continue to do his internship, become better and better, and then when it’s time it’ll be his team. There’s only two really good halfbacks in the game at the moment, Cronk and Thurston, the rest need to keep developing. Drawing comparisons is useless, but Croft and Cleary look to be the next “big” halves in the game. Where Cleary is having to do it all himself, Croft is learning from the game’s best and it will do the world of good for him.

        • August 20th 2017 @ 4:11pm
          AGordon said | August 20th 2017 @ 4:11pm | ! Report

          Yep, I get that but Cronk is going at the end of the season, supposedly and the way people are talking about this guy, he’s the next JT already.

          My point is, it’s easy to look good in a confident, winning team when there are so many good support players around you. I want to see this guy carrying the team when these guys aren’t there and other sides have had a chance to work out how to play against him.

          Certainly agree with your comments about Cleary, especially after his efforts today.

      • Roar Pro

        August 20th 2017 @ 11:22am
        Chris Charlton said | August 20th 2017 @ 11:22am | ! Report

        Let’s remember that the Dragons, Warriors and, most notably the Eels were beaten by this same team the Knights. And playmakers like Widdop, Foran and Moses had bad games against the Knights. No doubt Smith, Slater etc helped but Croft was fantastic.

    • August 20th 2017 @ 9:38am
      Duncan Smith said | August 20th 2017 @ 9:38am | ! Report

      He’ll slot in next year, no worries. Thanks Brisbane for not signing him.

    • August 20th 2017 @ 10:08am
      Albo said | August 20th 2017 @ 10:08am | ! Report

      Whilst Croft is only a kid, he steps up to the NRL level each time he is selected including those matches when the big 3 were missing on SOO duty. I have no doubts about his ability and fitting straight into the Storm system next year. In fact I think the Storm have already incubated their next “big 3” ready to take over from Smith, Cronk & Slater as soon as these greats move on. They seem to have the recruitment system success that all other Clubs can only dream about.

    • Roar Guru

      August 20th 2017 @ 11:18am
      BigJ said | August 20th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

      Croft and munster a great halves pairing for the Storm’s future. Start chocing up more premierships.

    • August 20th 2017 @ 12:27pm
      Colin said | August 20th 2017 @ 12:27pm | ! Report

      Another great young Queenslander coming through the system, which is brilliant to see. But why do people have to have a dig at the Broncos all the time for not signing players who turn out to be guns? Well done to the Storm for identifying and signing blokes like Cam Smith, Slater, Cronk, Munster, etc. – but please don’t pretend that the Broncos are the only team that overlooks those kind of players. In many cases, the Broncos already have talented youngsters in their development system, and simply can’t fit other great young talent in the squad.

      Bellamy is a brilliant coach, but he’s not the only guy who turns rejects into stars. If I had a dollar for every “reject” that Bennett has resurrected or turned into a top-notch player, I’d be lying in a hammock in the Bahamas. I totally respect Bellamy and his whole organization, but let’s remember despite his amazing win/loss ratio, and all the success they’ve had, the Storm have still only got 2 premierships over 18 years of existence to show for their efforts. Broncos have triple that number over 30 years, and did it all within the salary cap.

      • August 20th 2017 @ 2:57pm
        Duncan Smith said | August 20th 2017 @ 2:57pm | ! Report

        Colin, do you really think all Brisbane premier sides have been under the salary cap? Your 1998 grand final side was almost entirely Origin players!

        • August 20th 2017 @ 7:03pm
          Peter said | August 20th 2017 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

          Duncan Smith, just for a laugh, do you have any actual evidence, or do you “just know” because that excuses your team’s failures?

      • August 21st 2017 @ 5:12pm
        BleakCity said | August 21st 2017 @ 5:12pm | ! Report

        “…and did it all within the salary cap”…that’ll do me!

        What other club gets away with “sorry but Mr Gee doesn’t work here any more”…ah OK right you are then so sorry to disturb you!

        • August 21st 2017 @ 5:43pm
          Colin said | August 21st 2017 @ 5:43pm | ! Report

          Until you can provide hard evidence, Brisbane are guilty of nothing. You’re having a laugh if you think the NRL wouldn’t love to catch them doing something wrong. If there was a solid case to be made then, they would have made it. This is just the typical sour grapes from anyone who doesn’t like to see the Broncos have success. Smear campaigns, rumours, theories – but no actual proof!

        • Roar Rookie

          August 21st 2017 @ 6:23pm
          Joe said | August 21st 2017 @ 6:23pm | ! Report

          The reality is once Gee resigned there was no way the NRL could compel him to talk as they have no powers over him as a private citizen. I guess that sudden resignation and refusal to help the NRL in answering questions about the missing 300k is why a lot of people have doubts about the Broncs…especially as he was the one who signed the likes of Barba and Milf. If he had stayed and come up with a valid explanation it wouldn’t have so many question marks over it.

          • August 21st 2017 @ 9:10pm
            Colin said | August 21st 2017 @ 9:10pm | ! Report

            I’ll concede that’s a fair point. Does look a bit dodgy – I guess we’ll never know for certain. Hard to imagine there’s a single club which has never rorted the system in some shape or form, and that includes Brisbane. Think I’ll sign out of this thread for now.

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