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HE LEAVES A GREAT LEGACY

Cooper has achieved everything a player can in our game. He’s won premierships, represented his state and country and won the big individual medals. When he finishes up, he’ll leave a great legacy.

 

Not only did he help the Storm become so successful, he helped grow the game of rugby league in Victoria. When we started out, it was a relatively unknown code in this part of the country.

 

Not too many people knew about the Storm or who played for them. Through the efforts of Coops and others over a long period of time, that built the brand and popularity of the sport. Now nearly everyone you speak to in Melbourne and Victoria knows what rugby league is, knows who the Storm are and knows Cooper Cronk.

 

 

 

SLIPPERS AND A CUP OF TEA

When Queensland named their team for Origin I, I was never going to be in it.

 

We’ll be training through that period at the Storm, so when game one kicks off I’ll more than likely be at at home in my slippers with a cup of tea, watching it on TV.

 

I’ll invite some teammates over for a bit of Queensland v New South Wales banter. The kids might get to watch the first 10 or 15 minutes before bed.

 

I’d love to be playing. Ask anyone who has played Origin and they’ll tell you they’d love to play one more Origin game.

 

Origin is much more than 80 minutes of football, especially these days. There is so much that goes into the game and so much public interest around it. You really get banged around both physically and mentally when you’re a part of it.

 

I was lucky to be involved for such a long time. But as much as I’d love to be out there again, it’s not a reality and never was.

 

The decision I made 12 months ago was definitely the right one. As much as I’d love to play the three 80-minute games, I wasn’t prepared to throw the whole commitment into the preparation, the hype, the build-up – everything that goes with Origin.

 

It was surprising a few weeks ago when my name was mentioned about coming back. I came off the training paddock here in Melbourne and my footy manager came up to me and said: ‘you’re not playing Origin again?’

 

I said: ‘what do you mean?’. He said: ‘I just got told by a journo up in Sydney you’re playing Origin. He’s telling me it’s good mail. If it’s true let me know.’

 

From that day it grew legs, but I knew it was never going to eventuate.

 

 

Last year, not playing Origin was a really strange feeling for me. I went to game one in Melbourne and just being in the stands, watching the boys run out, hearing that roar, it gave me itchy feet.

 

Once I saw the first tackle, I thought, ‘you’ve made the right decision’. The following morning I woke up and bounced out of bed. That confirmed it.

 

Everyone’s tipping NSW and that’s understandable. They won last year and they’ve got a lot of players going well in good form. There may be a couple of personnel changes but I think they’ll stick with the majority of boys who got the job done last year.

 

It’s been talked up as doom and gloom for Queensland. There are a couple of injuries, Billy Slater and Greg Inglis have retired and there are questions over captaincy. Despite all that, I believe we can win it. Look at the guys that are available - there are plenty of quality young footballers.

 

When you look back at last year, game one was even until three quarters the way through. Game two, Queensland started like a house on fire, looked really good, then for some reason took the foot off the accelerator late in the game.

 

There was an opportunity to win the match but there were a couple of errors in judgement late in the game and chance was blown. That’s what happens in Origin - the margins are very small.

 

In game three, NSW were extremely confident and going for a sweep and we blew them off the park. Go figure!

 

I didn’t see 2018 as a series dominated by NSW and I can’t see either side dominating in 2019. Maroons to win in a tight one!

 

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