Croft has the quality to replace Cronk: Ryles


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    Life after Cooper Cronk at NRL premiers Melbourne Storm hasn’t changed too much, according to assistant Jason Ryles.

    However, ex-Test prop Ryles admits the Storm will soon feel the classy halfback’s absence despite Brodie Croft placing an early claim on Cronk’s vacant No.7 jersey.

    Ryles joked that Sydney Roosters recruit Cronk hadn’t been missed at Storm pre-season training so far – probably because the playmaker isn’t usually back from representative duty by now anyway.

    But Ryles believed 20-year-old Croft had already showed he could fill the void left by 323-game Storm No.7 Cronk.

    “It’s pretty normal at the moment because Cooper, Smithy (captain Cameron Smith) and Bill (Slater) aren’t normally back until after Christmas (from rep duty),” Ryles told Sky Sports Radio.

    “Not too much has changed at the minute but I am sure it is going to.

    “His (Cronk’s) experience is very hard to replace, and in a key position.

    “It’s a big challenge for the next guy who comes in but we have done a lot of work in that regard.”

    Ryles believed Croft – who played four NRL games last year – had edged out fellow young half Ryley Jacks in the pre-season to date in the race to replace Cronk.

    “I think so but it is still very early in the piece,” he said.

    Either way Ryles believed Melbourne’s old guard of Smith and Slater would ensure whoever joined their world class spine this season would be ready.

    “Brodie Croft has been doing a really good job and so has Ryley Jacks – there are a lot of players training hard vying for that (halfback) position,” he said.

    “When Cam and Billy come back over the next couple of weeks we will see how the combinations look.

    “It won’t be until we play live footy until we see the replacement for Cooper.

    “But if you are a young half you are learning in the best environment next to Bill and Cameron so whoever gets that opportunity – whether it is Brodie or whoever – it’s a great platform for their career learning from two of the greats.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • January 23rd 2018 @ 7:44am
      Brendon said | January 23rd 2018 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, when Billy got hurt in 2016, everyone wrote off the Storm, they were nothing without the Big 3. But amazing recruitment, leadership and guidance by Smith and Cronk helped Munster become one of the top players there are right now in the next generation. He is top notch at fullback, centre and 5/8. This year, Croft will experience the same. There is no way the Storm would fall down losing one player, without a top back up plan in place. It may take 2 or 3 rounds, but Smith, Slater and Munster will guide Croft, and he will, by finals, be on of the top halfbacks in the competition!

      • January 23rd 2018 @ 8:29am
        BA Sports said | January 23rd 2018 @ 8:29am | ! Report

        I Agree with you on your wrap on the Storm and Croft.

        He needs to be Nathan Cleary for the Storm to make another Grand Final. – Maybe even only 75% of Nathan Cleary. With the coaching and experience around him, who is to say he won’t be that?

      • January 24th 2018 @ 11:56am
        Cowboy Pete said | January 24th 2018 @ 11:56am | ! Report

        Agree, there is no way they would leave themselves vulnerable to the loss of one player particularly when they were given nearly a full 12 months notice. I suspect Croft will surprise many and if he doesn’t then there is Jacks & & &

    • January 23rd 2018 @ 11:19am
      Stormer said | January 23rd 2018 @ 11:19am | ! Report

      Yes, Croft showed his class and composure when given the chance last season. I agree that he should slot in seamlessly as Munster did from 2015.

    • January 23rd 2018 @ 11:32am
      Duncan Smith said | January 23rd 2018 @ 11:32am | ! Report

      The Storm are smart with their succession planning. One champion gone each year: Cronk 2017, Slater 2018, Smith probably 2019, They’ll still be a good side in 2020.

    • January 23rd 2018 @ 12:01pm
      Albo said | January 23rd 2018 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

      I think Croft could eventually be even better than Cronk. He has more natural ability and flair, as long as he can match Cronk’s commitment and toughness, and I suspect he will show that with some experience, under the guidance of Bellamy, Smith & Slater.

    • Roar Rookie

      January 23rd 2018 @ 3:09pm
      Joe said | January 23rd 2018 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

      Looking forward to seeing how this plays out. I think Croft will be first choice. Great running game, great game management but still to be tested defensively. That was his initial weakness in trials at the start of last season but he seems to have fixed that. Also seems to have a cool head and great footy instinct and combined well with Kaufusi last year. Ryley Jacks is a better defender and bigger body which is why Bellamy went with him to start the first 3 games of last season and also filled in for Cronk when they played the teams with good forwards like the Sharks last year. He didn’t put a foot wrong but he’s more like a Blake Green….solid player who does his job which might be what they need for some of the games.That said it was his first year of NRL so he might have more to offer this season. Was also intrigued to hear Munster mention Billy Walters who is the son of Kevin Walters being in the mix. He has a great running game and if his defence is anything like his Dad and uncles he might get a shot as Bellamy values defence above all else. There’s also Scott Drinkwater who’s been very good in the feeder team. I expect all of these guys will get a shot during trials and the season proper and whoever grabs it with both hands wins the 7.

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