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Croft's off-field traits Cooper-esque

Croft's off-field traits Cooper-esque
The comparisons between Brodie Croft and Cooper Cronk are numerous. Copyright: NRL Photos.

Craig Bellamy can see the resemblance like everyone else.

He knows the similarities drawn between Cooper Cronk and emerging halfback Brodie Croft are warranted. 

They've got a clone-like running style, same temperament and according to the coach, a strong attention to detail and willingness both on and off the field. 

"They're both very anal about their preparation," Bellamy said after Melbourne's 44-12 win over Newcastle in which Croft starred with three tries and two assists.

"Playing style they're similar, to be honest. They lookalike, that's probably the big one. But there are differences as well and Crofty won't be a Cooper clone next year but his own man. 

"We obviously know he's a good player and good kid."

Croft, like Cronk, hasn't had it easy coming through the junior systems. 

He moved to Brisbane for schooling and a chance to play rugby league after moving from his hometown of Highfields near Toowoomba at a young age. 

He never got a look in from heavyweight clubs Brisbane or North Queensland and despite trialling at the Broncos, was never offered a formal deal. 

"I was always the small country halfback playing for a small country town against the bigger Brisbane teams that had the forward packs that could dominate ours," Croft said.

"As a halfback it was hard to get any recognition. A lot of the players pipped me in positions, that was a kick in the guts but I kept pushing and striving away. I'm not sure where they're at now.

"It's certainly something that I keep in the back of my mind that they had their chances."

The irony now is that the 20-year-old is playing behind a forward pack that boasts a host of international experience and rated among the world's most elite. 

Croft's stunning performance against the Knights coincided with his first game alongside Australian trio Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Will Chambers.

"With the forward pack we have in Jesse [Bromwich], Tohu [Harris] and Felise [Kaufusi] up front, it's a halfback's dream," Croft said.

"It was my first game I played with the likes of Smithy, Slats and Chambers so it was an incredible feeling and I had to pinch myself in the warm-up.

"It gave me confidence knowing I had the likes of those guys alongside me."

Croft never shied away from the comparisons with Cronk when asked about Bellamy's comments describing him just as "anal" as the Australian halfback. 

"That was one of the biggest reasons I came down to Melbourne in the first place, to learn under Cooper. The way he goes about his business on and off the field is second to none and leaves no stone unturned," Croft said.

"I'm just doing as much as I can to learn off him and then obviously the opportunity next year is something I'm looking to strive towards."

Cronk is renown for an ultra-professional life away from the paddock and serious preparation on it. 

The signs are there Croft is on a similar path with a strict setup away from the game.

"I'd struggle to pick out one," he said when asked what are some of his habits.

"I'm strict with the food that I eat, being healthy and little things like sleep and I don't mind meditation before I go to bed. I look at 7-8 hours and getting to bed on time. 

"That's been the way since I was a junior, mum has always said get your sleep and that's the best preparation. If you prepare yourself for sleep you'll have a good day the next day.

"It's a follow-on effect. You could say I'm anal about that but that's just me and how I feel. I get my confidence from feeling prepared every week and that works for me."

He admitted it might come across as odd to others but the Dalby-born pivot won't shy away from his own level of preparation. 

"Everyone wants to do things differently and people sometimes question me for the things I do and way I go about my business - just whether it's necessary to do things this strict or disciplined," he said.

"It's something I've been told to work on by the coaches and to loosen up. Have a bit more flare. Little things like off-the-cusp football I've been working on now.

"I've just always wanted to stand out from the crowd."

 

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