Storm could hit market for Cronk replacement

Michael Carayannis and Matt Logue discuss the latest NRL news

Melbourne Storm v Brisbane Broncos Cooper Cronk Picture: Wayne Ludbey

CAMERON Smith has given the strongest indication Melbourne Storm will actively go to market to secure a replacement for Cooper Cronk.

Cronk, 33, dropped a bombshell at AAMI Park on Tuesday, announcing this would be his last season in purple.

The superstar halfback will move to Sydney at the end of the season to join his fiancee, Fox Sports presenter Tara Rushton.

Smith today said Cronk leaving is “raw news” but gives the club time to “start planning”.

“I’ve always found if a guy is going to move on I’d like to know fairly early so you can start planning,” Smith said.

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“Whereas if Cooper waited until August-September to tell us then we’re probably out of the market to find a half next year — a quality half to come in.”

Storm has only inexperienced options in the sheds, lead by 19-year-old halfback Brodie Croft.

Croft has only played one first grade game and barring injury to Cronk is unlikely to add to the tally.

“Big shoes to fill though — barring injury to Cooper, I don’t think he’s going to get another opportunity to play first grade this year,” Smith said.

Cronk’s glittering career in Melbourne will come to an end in 2017.

Cronk’s glittering career in Melbourne will come to an end in 2017.Source:News Corp Australia

“Maybe one or two games around State of Origin.”

With Cronk off the books, Storm is likely to have a strong bargaining power to pluck a top quality half.

“Our CEO (Dave Donaghy) and our senior board members only found out yesterday, so I think they’re going to be scrambling to find or see what’s going to best suited for us next year,” Smith told Triple M Melbourne.

“If we are going to go to the market there are quite a few guys in similar positions to Cooper off-contract.”

Originally published as Storm could hit market for Cronk replacement