The secret to Cooper Cronk’s amazing powers of recovery have been revealed ahead of the State of Origin decider in Brisbane on Wednesday night.
And it’s not for the faint hearted.
At 31, Queensland No.7 Cronk appears to be a medical marvel after returning early from a knee injury for the must-win game three.
Last year Cronk (broken arm) also missed game two and again made a speedy recovery to inspire Queensland’s 32-8 Origin III romp.
After being welcomed back as Queensland’s game three “saviour”, Cronk gave an insight into his rehabilitation regime that has made a habit of defying doctors.
Those wishing for a magic wand will be disappointed.
“When someone gives you a time frame and it’s right on the edge you want to push the boundaries,” Cronk said.
“If people say ‘ice your knee every hour’, I do it twice.
“If someone said ‘stretch four times’, I do it five times.”
Cronk credited the Melbourne NRL club’s medical department with helping him “push the boundaries”.
But in the end it’s Cronk’s sheer will that gets him over the line, it seems.
“Over the first three days they said ‘the best thing to do is get the swelling out of the joint’,” Cronk said of his knee injury recovery.
“So for the first three days I just lay on the couch, didn’t move with a good ice machine and here we are.”
The same methodical approach to his game has ensured Cronk is the man Queensland turn to in an Origin crisis.
In 2012, Cronk famously kicked a last-gasp game three field goal to seal Queensland a series victory at Suncorp Stadium.
This year in game one he was at it again, kicking truly to clinch an 11-10 Origin I win in Sydney.
But Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans struggled to click when filling in for Cronk in game two.
Back with the Maroons reins, Cronk said he longed to step up again in another classic Origin “moment”.
“Every small moment is so crucially important in the big games,” he said.
“We’ll practise to do all those things right.”
Queensland coach Mal Meninga said it was no coincidence Cronk was the man who appeared “at the right place, right time”.
“They are the moments that you play for,” he said.
“Those special moments that test your character – Cooper thrives on that.
“That is why he has been such a successful player over a long period of time – he drives that inspiration.
“He loves to be tested.”