Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk is warning that the Storm need to focus on winning rather than getting caught up in the emotion of Cameron Smith’s 300th NRL game.
Ahead of the milestone game at AAMI Park against the Panthers on Friday night, Cronk felt that was the best way to honour their captain’s achievement.
Smith will become the first Storm player to reach the mark, and the 24th NRL player.
After losing their last four games to put their place in the last eight in jeopardy, Cronk says winning is vital.
“With big games people can get caught up in the emotion … but at the end of the day you win the football game by doing your role, ” Cronk said.
“The best way to celebrate is to go out and do your job.
“I’ll be lacing those boots up as tight as I normally do and going out and doing my job for Cameron on Friday night.
“There’s certain aspects of our game that we haven’t been great at and we need to find that and turn it around right now.”
Cronk has played alongside Smith longer than any other player who will run out with him on Friday night.
Their history goes back to teenage days when Cronk used to hitch a lift to training at Melbourne’s Queensland Cup affiliate Brisbane Norths because he was too young to drive.
“Not much has changed; he still lives around the corner from me now so I’m sure he’d still pick me up if I asked for a lift,” Cronk said.
The pair have played in five grand finals, won Origin titles for Queensland and a World Cup with the Kangaroos.
“We’ve obviously played a lot of good football together, had a lot of good times and some good memories,” Cronk said.
“Three hundred games is a magical achievement, you can count the games but it is the way he’s gone about it.
“His consistency and the level. He’s a special footballer and it is going to be a special night for all the boys involved.”
Penrith coach Ivan Cleary said his team would do their best to keep their heads down and avoid the Smith show.
“There’s not many guys that play 300 games and not many have played them better than he has,” Cleary said.
“But for us, it really doesn’t come into what we do.
“After coming up against one of the better sides in the Roosters last week and not being quite up to it on the night, we’re looking to definitely bounce back and it’s a good occasion to do that.”