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Cronk has Slater’s blessing to quit Storm

Cronk has Slater’s blessing to quit Storm Written by TONY ADAMS, March 4, 2016

BRILLIANT fullback Billy Slater has given fellow superstar Cooper Cronk his blessing to leave the Storm as the battle for the Test halfback’s signature intensifies.

Cronk is coming off contract at the end of the year and sources close to the 32-year-old Melbourne star say he’s certain to make the move to Sydney to be nearer to his girlfriend, TV personality Tara Rushton.

His departure will be a massive blow to the Storm, who have relied heavily on the “Big Three” – Cronk, Slater and Cameron Smith – since the trio first combined in 2004.

But Slater says he’ll have no problem with Cronk moving on.

“I’d love to see Cooper stay, but obviously there are other factors involved in his decision besides just football,” Slater says.

“If he thinks it’s best for him to go, I’ll respect that decision.

“I haven’t spoken to Cooper about his plans . . . it’s been that way with all three of us when we’ve been off contract.

“He does have his girlfriend in Sydney and that will come into his considerations, I’m sure.

“It’d be great for him to play out his career at the Storm, but I’ll understand if that doesn’t happen.

“If he does go, it’ll be a pity – and leave massive shoes to fill.”

Melbourne aren’t giving up on retaining Cronk, who has played 275 games for the club since debuting in round 9, 2004.

Storm football manager Frank Ponissi remains quietly confident the star No.7 will end his career a one-club man.

“Negotiations and discussions are going smoothly at this stage,” says a tight-lipped Ponissi.

“But there’s still a long way before any decision is made . . . it’s a long process.”

Sources close to Cronk have told RLW that a couple of years ago the scheming halfback intended to finish his career in European rugby union.

But all that changed when Cronk began dating Rushton, who is based in Sydney, and the pair want to be closer together.

The Rabbitohs and Dragons have both denied any interest in Cronk – but RLW believes they’re still keen.

The Roosters are another club who could enter the race for his signature, depending on what happens with troubled No.7 Mitchell Pearce, who is awaiting suspension.


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