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Culture over Cash for Cronk

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Cooper Cronks decision to call a press conference on Friday to announce he will stay at the Storm for another 4 years says a few things.

Firstly, that Melbourne has one of the strongest club cultures in the NRL.

You’d have to have been living under a rock to not know every little detail of the Storms salary cap dramas. It dragged the players, staff and anyone wearing a purple shirt though the mud, and created a stain on the clubs history that will endure long after the people involved have moved on.

Whether any particular player knew or suspected that someone was cooking the books isn’t relevant anymore. What I and many others remember is the show of club solidarity in front of an intense media spotlight, while all they had worked for was stripped away. It galvanised the group, and whether another club would band together like that is a big question.

Regardless, that’s what happened and players in the prime of their careers and earning potential primarily chose to tough it out. Cronk was one of them, and coming off contract, with big money deals from the Titans and Dragons on the table, he re-affirmed that decision. It’s a rare player that, at 29 years of age, doesn’t go for the cash in what could well be his last contract signing in the NRL. Rarer still if the club he has been with has had the troubles Melbourne has.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they’re winning. If you like a bet, $5 is probably solid odds for the Storm to lift the silverware this year. Having a player like Cronk decide to take a pay cut to stay injects huge confidence into a team that is practically brimming with it already. No side has more reason to bury the past, and what better way to do that than by re-filling that trophy cabinet, and creating some new memories.

Secondly, if there was really a deal on the table for Cronk at the Gold Coast, what are they doing up there? By all accounts, the Titans on the brink of financial ruin, and yet they reportedly tabled $3.2 million over 4 years. What is going on up there is yet to be fully decoded, but if I was Dave Taylor I’d be a little nervous with my decision to leave the Bunnies.

While you have to respect Cronks decision to finally get everything out in the open, the drama created by todays press conference seems a bit ridiculous considering he was practically announcing nothing.  A huge group of media gathering to hear that nothing has changed hasn’t happened since..well, Ricky Ponting a month ago. Why it is necessary to gather the nations sports news sources together to announce that you’ll be doing what you have always done seems overly dramatic. Make a statement, get your media manager to put in in an email to the media, and get on with the job at hand. Full respect then goes to Heritage round comeback kid Lote Tuqiri, who this morning at a much smaller press conference at Sydneys Concord Oval was asked ‘Do you think Braith Anasta would be good for the Tigers?’, to which he very calmly replied ‘Mate, I can’t speculate on speculation.’

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