Cameron Smith says he feels for Cooper Cronk as D-day looms on his NRL future but admits it will be tough for the long-time Melbourne playmaker to walk away from the Storm.
Off-contract halfback Cronk is yet to decide whether to become a one-club player or link with a Sydney NRL club next season in order to be closer to his girlfriend.
Smith gave an insight into the dilemma facing Cronk, comparing it to his own, when he reportedly came close to cutting ties with Melbourne and signing with the Broncos in his hometown Brisbane.
In the end he agreed to a four-year extension that will keep him at Melbourne until the end of 2018.
“I was in the same position a couple of years ago,” Smith said.
“Everyone has different circumstances and what they need to think about.
“But it’s always a tough thing, especially when you have stayed at a club for so long like Cooper has.
“He’s been with the Storm for nearly 12 years.
“It’s a big decision joining another NRL club but it’s his choice.
“If he decides what is best for him then that is great – we wish him all the best.”
Despite denials by Dragons coach Paul McGregor, Cronk has been linked to a $3.5 million, three-year St George-Illawarra deal.
Smith said he had “no idea” which way Cronk would go but conceded he would give the playmaker space as he contemplated his future.
“From a teammates’ point of view we would love him to stay. He has been a wonderful player for such a long time. It would be sad to see him leave,” he said.
“He’s played nearly 300 games for the club, he is a leader in our game.
“But it’s his decision. If it’s not with us then that’s fine.
“Let’s hope he makes a decision to stay at our club.”