Test halfback Cooper Cronk admits his ongoing contract negotiations might be contributing to his inconsistent NRL form for Melbourne.
Ahead of the Storm’s clash with Newcastle on Saturday at AAMI Park, Cronk acknowledged that sorting out his future had played on his mind.
“If I’m completely honest, I’m not exactly stoked with the level of my performance in the last four weeks so there’s probably a little bit of a weight,” Cronk said on Friday.
The Maroons No.7 and Melbourne skipper Cameron Smith performed below their usual lofty standards in the side’s last up 16-6 loss to Cronulla, their first of the season.
The 32-year-old said his contract negotiations with the Storm were “progressing” although he had no time-line for an announcement.
He appeared to give his strongest hint yet, however, that he will play out his NRL career in purple rather than shift to Sydney as originally expected.
“There’s umming and ahhing in all facets of the contract and out of respect for the Storm those specifics will remain behind closed doors … we will get there, it will work out,” Cronk said.
Newcastle shocked the Storm in their last visit to Melbourne last season – sitting last they won 20-6 to effectively cost the team a top four finish.
Although winless this season, the Knights have won three of their past four clashes with the Storm.
“They’ve had a few question marks in terms of playing consistent footy but (coach Craig Bellamy) has reminded us of their last performance down here last year and he’s on record saying it was a pretty dark moment for us,” Cronk said.
He said the Knights, under new coach Nathan Brown, had taken off the shackles and were playing an expansive game.
At the same time, Cronk said he, Smith and five-eighth Blake Green needed to play more directly in attack to give the Storm’s outside backs more time and space.
“We didn’t play to our standards and that falls a little bit on myself and a few others but hopefully I can take a bit more ownership, direct us around the park a little bit better and play a bit more direct,” he said.
Their ruck defence was also key.
“It’s been a cornerstone of our success for a number of years and that was tested and didn’t stand up,” Cronk said.