Cronk aims to nail down Roos' No.7 jersey - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cronk aims to nail down Roos' No.7 jersey

By Steve Jancetic 22/10/2010 08:27:08 PM Comments (0)

Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens admits Cooper Cronk's extended run in the Test side could see him usurp Johnathan Thurston as Australia's first-choice playmaker.

Thurston has held a mortgage on the green and gold No.7 jumper since inheriting the spot following Andrew Johns' international retirement in 2006, with Cronk's opportunities limited to cameo roles as an injury replacement.

But with the North Queensland skipper to miss the Four Nations tournament - which begins with Australia taking on Papua New Guinea at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday - due to an ankle injury, Cronk has the opportunity to build his case for a permanent berth in the side.

And it has Sheens predicting the possible return of a genuine rivalry for the halfback spot, such as the battle waged between Steve Mortimer and Peter Sterling through the 1980s and Ricky Stuart and Allan Langer the following decade.

"In the halfback role there are some outstanding prospects in this country and you can go back to the Mortimer-Sterling, Stuart-Langer - there's always two or three that battle it out," Sheens said.

"Copper's in that position, it's a chance for him to show that he can stand up and handle it.

"I just want him to concentrate on the game, not worry about trying to outplay JT.

"He's a different style of player, he brings certain strengths to the game and if he just plays to them I think he lays down the gauntlet doesn't he."

It's an opportunity Cronk is relishing, but not one that he's taking for granted, especially with Dally M medal winner Todd Carney waiting in the wings.

"I think that would be quite dangerous of me," Cronk said of anticipating he had been gifted a long run in the side.

"You can get into camp and start looking at it 'four games, how good is this opportunity for the future down the track,' but the reality is you play bad you're probably going to go out the door the next week.

"Is this an opportunity, yeah it is. I can either take it with both hands and have a go at it or it's not going to work - we'll see how we go."

Another eyeing a permanent Australian jumper is Sam Thaiday, who a year ago went to England for the Four Nations as a fringe player.

He was dumped after the tournament opening draw with New Zealand before working his way back into favour for the final, but he's now set his sights on emulating the deeds of forward leader Petero Civoniceva in becoming a green and gold fixture.

"That's something I'd like to build myself up to, to be a Petero Civoniceva type of player that is one of the first picked in any side that's getting picked," Thaiday said.

"I think I've done that at a club level and done that at Origin level - hopefully I can do that at international level."

Sheens admitted Thaiday had the potential to be a Kangaroos mainstay.

"He doesn't realise how good he can be," the veteran mentor said.

"I think he had a great season this year - he was very, very good in the State of Origin series as well.

"If he maintains his fitness and his attitude and wants it bad enough, he could be anything."

The Australian side will have their final training run at Parramatta Stadium on Saturday.

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