McCrone sheds 'weak link' tag - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

McCrone sheds 'weak link' tag

By David Beniuk 16/09/2010 05:18:58 PM Comments (0)

The tune being sung late in the NRL season is 'Canberra have no weak spots', and that's got to be music to the ears of halfback Josh McCrone.

Once considered the Raiders' weakest link, and even dropped for regular centre Adam Mogg, McCrone has cemented the No.7 position at a time coinciding with his side's stunning late season surge.

Returning to the starting line-up for a rousing 24-22 round 18 win over Manly at Brookvale Oval, the 23-year-old has stayed put while Canberra have notched nine wins from their past 10 matches.

In the process, he has attracted praise from the likes of part-time coach Andrew Johns and Raiders great Ricky Stuart, who declared "I really like his style".

His form has also raised questions about Canberra's stated aim of bringing an old head like Brett Kimmorley or Matt Orford to partner star five-eighth Terry Campese and tutor McCrone.

A man who knew all that years ago is Penrith coach Matt Elliott, the former Raiders boss who spotted McCrone and lured him to the Panthers in 2007.

It didn't amount to much then but Elliott is not surprised the Raiders, who play the Wests Tigers in a sudden death NRL semi-final at Canberra Stadium on Friday night, are reaping the rewards now.

"It's amazing what opportunity and confidence can do," Elliott said.

"I brought him here because I knew the ability of the kid and ability doesn't disappear.

"Things that do fluctuate are opportunity and confidence."

Elliott, who was at the helm of the Raiders between 2002-06, was impressed with McCrone's understated role in Canberra's 24-22 week one upset of the Panthers at CUA Stadium.

"I thought his performance against us was pivotal," Elliott said.

"He didn't probably get a lot of recognition but I thought he led the kick-chase on every play."

The Temora product and qualified electrician has managed 21 games this season after debuting in round seven last year but also spent several weeks this year playing for feeder club Souths Logan.

His form prompted the Raiders to extend his contract, originally to expire at the end of this season, until the end of 2012.

He will face off with another young gun in the Tigers' Robert Lui on Friday night, both rookie No.7s alongside NRL superstars in Campese and Tigers pivot Benji Marshall.

Elliott says McCrone is part of the secret to Campese's brilliant form at the back end of the season.

"He's playing great footy," Elliott said.

"He's actually allowed Terry Campese to play at a higher level and I'm delighted for him."

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