Cronk to make most of rare rep chance - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cronk to make most of rare rep chance

By Steve Jancetic 04/11/2009 03:21:37 PM Comments (0)

The pulse behind Melbourne's NRL success finally gets to show his wares for Australia, with Saturday's Four Nations clash with France ending Cooper Cronk's two-year stint in the representative wilderness.

Despite driving the Storm to four consecutive grand final appearances that yielded two premierships, Cronk's only senior representative game was a start in Australia's record 58-0 thumping of New Zealand in Wellington in 2007.

Since then the likes of Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston, Scott Prince and even Karmichael Hunt have blocked his path to both Queensland and Test jumpers, a predicament which would exasperate the most patient of men.

But not Cronk.

"Everyone wants to be part of the bigger games and if you're not a part of it you're obviously disappointed," Cronk said.

"Some things don't fall in your place and others get things the way they want sometimes.

"The problem is when you start sulking and dropping the bottom lip, that's when people really start noticing, and you're probably not going to get picked ever again."

It's a case of back to the future for Cronk, who will reprise a role he once feared he would never shake when he comes off the bench against France.

Cronk was the man in the No.14 jumper for the best part of two years at Melbourne, when understudy to starting halves Matt Orford and Scott Hill.

Since then he has blossomed into one of the game's premier playmakers - with Melbourne making the grand final every year since.

Ironically, Cronk's utility value now has him in a three-way race with Kurt Gidley and Robbie Farah for a berth on the Australian bench in the Four Nations final in Leeds.

"It was really frustrating," Cronk said of his bench role at the Storm.

"The first year I played 12 or 14 games all off the bench, the next year I played 22 and half those were starting at five-eighth.

"When you're a young fella on the scene and someone says you're playing first grade, you automatically think the world should stop for you ... you soon find out that's not how it works.

Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens can't speak highly enough of Cronk's attitude in camp. And his skill and that attitude which have him contending to play a bigger role in the tournament than that of occasional fill-in.

"That nine, seven, six thing about him - I'm not going to say it's going to put him in any stronger position than the other utility boys, but it just comes down to who's going to be fit after this next game," Sheens said.

"I'm going to experiment with Cooper ... he's got a chance to impress for the final in the role."

A berth in the final could be just the start. With Hunt having left rugby league to pursue a career in other codes, Cronk knows a Queensland jumper is also up for grabs.

"That's not something that's in my head, I'm not too worried about Queensland and a State of Origin series six months down the track," he said.

"It probably is a little bit (of an opportunity).

"I'll be going out there to run hard and tackle hard and two, to play my role in the side.

"If that makes someone stand up and take notice, that's for them to do that."

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