Queensland State of Origin coach Kevin Walters believes Cooper Cronk’s name belongs in the Immortals discussion.
While Maroons greats Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith are widely considered to be the next in line to join rugby league’s most exclusive club, Walters says Cronks credentials can’t be ignored.
The only Origin series the Maroons have lost in the past decade came after the influential halfback broke his arm in game one in 2014.
Aside from that, Cronk has helped pilot Queensland to five series wins since debuting in 2010.
“There was an article through the week that Wally Lewis wrote about the Thurstons and the Smiths and the Lockyers, all these guys, becoming Immortals. This guy is the forgotten man,” Walters said on Fox Sports’ NRL 360.
“But if you look at the Origin stats, he hasn’t played for two games in his career for Queensland and they lost both of those games.
“He’s just a guy that knows how to prepare well for a game. He gets himself ready for a game and there’s a lot more to Cooper Cronk than everyone can see.
“But everyone in that team really appreciates what he can bring to the table in Origin.”
Walters nominated the Storm superstar, who played as a centre in the juniors, as the ultimate example of what a player could achieve through hard work and perseverance.
“It’s just practice with him,” he said.
“Any kids out there, practice, practice, practice and when you think you’ve had enough of practising, then practice a bit more because that’s what he does and look where he is now: sitting at the top of the tree.”
Despite Walters’ glowing endorsement, Cronk in reality remains behind not only Lockyer, Thurston and Smith in the Immortals pecking order, but also several other modern-day greats and legends of the game.
Norm Provan, Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny and Brad Fittler are all in the argument to become the game’s ninth Immortal, while Cronk’s contemporaries Billy Slater and Greg Inglis also have claims.