It's a Test not a distraction: Cronk - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

It's a Test not a distraction: Cronk

By Melissa Woods 03/05/2010 03:25:35 PM Comments (0)

Australian halfback Cooper Cronk has moved to reassure coach Tim Sheens that Storm players are fully focused on winning their one-off rugby league Test against New Zealand.

The Kangaroos had their first training session on Monday ahead of the Friday night Test, which will be the first match played at Melbourne's new rectangular stadium, AAMI Park.

Selected to replace injured incumbent Johnathan Thurston at halfback, Cronk is one of four Melbourne players in the side along with Cameron Smith, Greg Inglis and Billy Slater.

Cronk, who was in blistering form in the Storm's crushing win over North Queensland last Saturday when Thurston injured his shoulder, said the match meant everything to the Melbourne players.

After the salary cap rort was exposed two weeks ago they were banned from playing for NRL competition points in 2010, and stripped of two premiership titles.

"I think representing your country is enough to play for," said Cronk, when asked about playing for a trophy again.

"Being an Anzac Test and at a new stadium are things that can motivate you but motivation for playing rugby league is because you enjoy it and you love playing footy with your mates."

And Cronk believed calling the Test match a welcome distraction from the turmoil at the Storm would be disrespectful.

"I wouldn't use it as a distraction at all," he said.

"When you represent your country, to call it that doesn't give the jersey or the feelings or emotions and everything that comes with it."

The 26-year-old said fellow Australian players had welcomed the Storm players into the fold, despite being labelled cheats in some quarters during the furore.

Kangaroos centre Jamie Lyon said the salary cap scandal wasn't an issue.

"We all get on well and I can't wait to get out there with them," Lyon said.

"They're great players and great blokes".

Sheens said Cronk's combination with Slater and Smith had given him an edge over Gold Coast halfback Scott Prince.

Set to play his third Test since 2007 despite being overlooked thus far for Queensland Origin, Cronk was determined to make his own mark.

"Hopefully the football I've played this week has contributed in that decision somehow," he said.

"It helps to have those guys but at the end of the day there's another 13 or 14 blokes you need to strike a relationship with and develop combination with.

"I'm lucky enough that I've been familiar with the scenery around this team over the last couple of years and mostly know the systems and language that's in place that we work off and look to put in a good performance."

The only debutant in the Australian team, which hasn't lost an Anzac Test since a 22-16 loss in 1998, is Dragons prop Michael Weyman.

"It's a dream come true," Weyman said.

"It must be something about Melbourne because I made my NSW debut down here and now Australia so it's a good spot, I love it."

Weyman said he was thrilled to be playing alongside one of his favourite players, veteran Petero Civoniceva.

"I've always admired him as a player so being a part of a team he's in it's going to be huge for me.

"He's just getting better with age, he's playing real good."

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