Star Sydney Roosters recruit Cooper Cronk has guaranteed continued improvement from his new team as they continue to develop a host of new combinations.
After a slow start, the Roosters showed some good signs in their 28-26 trial win over Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at Gosford on Saturday, with new fullback James Tedesco and centre Latrell Mitchell each bagging a double.
It was Cronk’s first on-field performance in his new colours after a brilliant 323-game career at Melbourne. He said he was more excited about that pre-season fixture that he had been about any since his rookie season in the Telstra Premiership.
“Honestly I haven’t been more excited for a pre-season game since probably 2003. I really enjoyed it,” Cronk said at a Roosters media day on Monday.
“While it wasn’t our most polished performance and there’s a lot of areas for us to improve, [they say] you can teach skill but you can’t teach will and there’s a lot of will in this side.
“[Our] combinations are a work in progress but no-one sees the commitment, hours or how specific our training is to fast track that. Are we where we need to be? Of course not, but I guarantee you we’ll get better with every session and game we play.”
Asked about contrasting comments from halves coach Andrew Johns, who pleaded for patience from Roosters fans, and coach Trent Robinson, who said on Saturday there is no room for patience, Cronk was philosophical.
“It takes time to work on things but the question is, how long’s time?” Cronk said.
“There’s no set time on how long it takes, it’s just about how much work you do on the training paddock. If you work hard, do extra hours, train specifically to improve, then that lessens the time it takes to evolve those conversations.
“One thing I can guarantee you is all the combinations … it comes down to how much you work and we’re working really hard to play some tough, competitive, consistent football in 2018.”
The combination between Cronk and Tedesco will be critical to the highly-fancied Tricolours’ hopes in 2018 and Cronk had plenty of praise for the approach of his fellow high-profile signing.
“Teddy’s been at a club where his natural ability has accelerated to achieve most things in rugby league, playing Origin and representing Italy in the World Cup,” Cronk said.
“Coming to this football club, the coaching staff will definitely add another dimension to James. He’s an intelligent footballer, he knows how to get himself around the park and he’s obviously got a physical speed and agility set that not too many other players have in the game.
“My job will be pretty simple – make sure I get him the ball in enough space for him to do his thing.”
Of his own move north from Melbourne, Cronk said the positivity in his personal life – he married Sydney-based partner Tara Rushton in the off-season, with the couple expecting their first child – had helped make him the happiest he’s ever been.
“Life’s great, it’s never been more enjoyable. That’s because personally a few things made the move really enjoyable,” Cronk said.
“Professionally … the transition’s been absolutely seamless. Personally and professionally it’s really complemented one another.”