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Bellamy: Retiring Cronk 'outstanding'

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20th May, 2019
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Craig Bellamy insists that Cooper Cronk was no third wheel.

In announcing his impending retirement at the conclusion of the 2019 NRL season, Cronk said the real Big Three during his long and successful stint in Melbourne was probably Bellamy, Billy Slater and Cameron Smith.

But the man Cronk described as his greatest influence was having none of it.

“He’s certainly selling himself short there,” Storm coach Bellamy told reporters.

“He’s been a big part of the three-wheel mobile or whatever you’d like to call it.

“He’s been outstanding.

“I see myself as being a small part of his career; but it’s been an honour to be along for most of the ride.”

When asked to list Cronk’s greatest qualities as a player, Bellamy included an appetite for hard work and professionalism, as evidenced by the way he became a great halfback at a relatively late age, having never played there until he turned 22.

Cronk’s first couple of seasons at the Storm were spent mostly as a utility off the bench, filling in at five-eighth, or at fullback for Slater, or at hooker for Smith.

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Then when Matt Orford left for Manly at the conclusion of the 2005 season, a vacancy arose in the No.7 jersey.

“I don’t know any players who have done that and I don’t know too many players who would apply themselves so hard for so long to get to the level he got to so quickly,” said Bellamy.

“Cooper took the luck out of it.

“He wasn’t a great kicker of the footy but he took a bit of advice from a couple of the AFL guys and then just practiced, practiced, practiced, practiced.

“He was always the last guy to leave training.

“He put so much time and effort into making that halfback spot his and then all off a sudden, he blossomed and he was the Origin halfback, the Australian halfback.

“We’ve had some great leaders in our club and he’s been one of the great leaders.

“When something needed to happen on the field, Cooper knew what it was and he made it happen.”

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