Smith reveals why he’s moved on from Cronk
YOU don't need to be the next Cooper Cronk. You need to be the first Brodie Croft.
And just like that, the comparisons are finished.
No more Cronk 2.0 or Cooper Croft or Brodie Cronk.
Croft is his own player.
While their physical attributes, from their shoulders to the hair on their head are similar, Melbourne's new No.7 is forging his own identity.
That's the message senior officials and players have delivered to their chief playmaker.
Storm captain Cameron Smith has backed 20-year-old Croft to emerge from the overwhelming shadow cast by Cronk and forge his own path.
"It's not difficult at all," Smith said when speaking of Croft being his own man on NRL360.
"He's a confident kid. He's shown that in the three or four games he played last year for us and again on Friday night.
"It was the biggest game that he's played in his career, the World Club Challenge, there was a lot on offer for us but he took control right from the start and I think Craig and the senior players have spoken to him about not being Cooper Cronk, not trying to do what he did for us for such a long period of time, just bring the strengths that you bring to the game."
While Cronk is renowned for his intensely detailed approach to his preparation and disciplined structure, Croft appears to be a lot looser around the edges.
A natural runner of the ball, the crafty half has shown in just a handful of appearances he's not afraid to take on the line.
It's a trait Smith has been impressed with.
Croft's biggest challenge is without the ball.
Cronk is a phenomenal defender, an element of Croft's the game the rookie is continuing to tweak as he adjusts to life outside the 20s competition.
"He enjoys running the football which he was very good at the other night," Smith said.
"He's got a great kicking game and he just has to make his tackles in defence.
"There's a lot of wonderful things that he can bring to our side that are diffident to Cooper.
"The challenge for Brodie now, is when we get into that grind of week in week out intensity of NRL, being able to perform like that every week."
Having officially kicked off life after Cronk with a 38-4 stampede over Leeds, Smith isn't dwelling on the past.
With Cronk starting his new life at the Roosters, Smith is focused on putting his energy into the next generation of Melbourne playmakers making a name for themselves in the top grade.
While the pain of losing Cronk still appeared to be raw when asked about the subject, Smith said as the leader of the club, it's his responsibility to embrace the change.
"I was as upset as anyone at the club when he came over my house and told me he was leaving, I was quite shocked and taken aback," Smith said.
"I would've loved for Cooper to finish his career at the Storm., it wasn't to be so my mentality now as captain and one of the leaders in our team is to do the very best we can with the squad we have at the moment and that's by not thinking about wishing Cooper was here.
"We've got Brodie Croft, Ryley Jacks and Jahrome Hughes. These three guys are the three young players that are going to take this club into the future."
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