Three days ago, Cooper Cronk announced he would be leaving the Melbourne Storm at the end of the season and moving to Sydney. There is no doubt that any team in the NRL would value a player of Cronk’s capability, however, assuming he plays on in 2018, where will he end up?
Current halves: Josh Reynolds (2017), Moses Mbye (2018)
The Bulldogs are struggling right now. Their attack has picked up right where it left off at the end of last season. They lack direction, creativity and talent in the halves to consistently put up points against quality opposition. With Reynolds off contract this year, and suggestions Mbye could move to hooker, Cronk is the perfect man to come in and fix this problem. Des Hasler has expressed interest in the Queensland halfback and he could be the missing piece in a struggling Bulldogs attack.
Current halves: James Maloney (2018), Chad Townsend (2017)
Townsend is off contract at the end of this year, so that could potentially leave a hole at halfback for the Sharks. However, Cronulla don’t have a lot of money to spend. If Jack Bird leaves and Gallen retires, that might open up some cap space, however, it seems unlikely that Cronk will be playing for the Sharks in 2018.
Manly Sea Eagles
Current halves: Blake Green (2018), Daly Cherry-Evans (2023)
The Sea Eagles have invested a lot of money into Cherry-Evans. It’s hard to see them pursuing Cronk.
Current halves: Clint Gutherson (2019), Corey Norman (2019)
The Eels have money to spend, and this could be used to sign a star half. Norman is a natural five-eighth and can easily slot back into the No. 6 jersey, with Gutherson able to play anywhere in the backline. After losing Kieran Foran, Cronk would be the perfect replacement.
Current halves: Te Maire Martin (2018), Nathan Cleary (2019)
The Panthers have a strong belief in the two young halves, can’t see that changing any time soon.
South Sydney Rabbitohs
Current halves: Cody Walker (2019), Adam Reynolds (2021)
Cody Walker is in career best form for the Bunnies this season, and Reynolds is the current NSW halfback. Can’t see them going after Cronk.
St. George Illawarra
Current halves: Gareth Widdop (2017), Josh McCrone (2017)
It’s still unclear whether Widdop will be playing for the Red V next season, but the Dragons recently signed Ben Hunt to a massive five year deal, so it’s unlikely that they will want to spend big on another half.
Current halves: Luke Keary (2018), Mitchell Pearce (2019)
Luke Keary has been the buy of the season so far, and it looks like Pearce will be at the Roosters for years to come. Can’t see it happening.
Current halves: Mitchell Moses (2017), Luke Brooks (2017)
The Tigers are in shambles right now. Moses signed a deal with Parramatta and wants an immediate release. Several clubs are pursuing Tedesco and Woods. Newly appointed coach Ivan Cleary will be looking to make his mark and signing Cronk would be just the way to do that. Cronk would be the perfect mentor for young half Brooks, who recently resigned with the club, and could form a lethal combination with Tedesco if he stays put. The Tigers need to try something, and signing Cronk would be a huge boost for a struggling side.
Verdict: We still don’t know whether Cooper Cronk will retire at the end of this season or decide to play on. However, if he holds off retirement, the Bulldogs, Eels and Tigers are the teams that would benefit most from signing the star halfback. Given Des Hasler has expressed interest, we’ll say the Bulldogs are the most likely to attain the two time Dally M medalist. A half that can control a side and put points on the board is what they need, and Cronk provides just that.