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Cronk to notch well-earned 250th

Cronk to notch well-earned 250th
Cooper Cronk has just about done it all in his time in rugby league. Credit: Colin Whelan. Copyright: NRL Photos.

When the Melbourne Storm take to the field on Saturday night one of rugby league's modern day champions will play game No.250 in the purple jersey.

Witnessing Cooper Cronk play football is akin to seeing a conductor leading a 13-piece symphony orchestra; every move meticulously planned and carried out.

Not a Storm game goes by without a sprinkle of Cronk magic cast upon it.

The 30-year-old reflected this week on what he has achieved in the game since making his debut in 2004.

"It is a tremendous honour, to play 250 games at the one club, it is a reminder of how fortunate I am to wake up every day and play the sport that I love," Cronk said.

"I've got a lot of people to thank for that. I am grateful to Craig and Melbourne Storm [for the chance] to not only live out a boyhood dream but to live the life I live today. 

"Hopefully in some small way I've been able to repay the faith they showed in me."

Maybe just a bit Cooper. 

The four-time Dally M Halfback of the Year and reigning Dally M medalist has made 14 appearances for Queensland, as well as 22 for his country.

He is the final member of Melbourne's 'Big Three' to reach the 250 milestone with a resume good enough to stand up with those of Billy Slater and Cameron Smith, something few players can match.

But a decade ago it took Cronk a whole year to earn his place in the first-grade squad and he admits his mindset as a rookie left a little to be desired.

"I was quite naïve and shy as a kid. I thought an opportunity at Melbourne Storm was going to just land in my lap," he said.

"But I quickly had to learn that I didn't have the natural gifts of other players. I had to work hard to achieve what I wanted to achieve and it has been the cornerstone of my philosophy for playing football for a long time now."

Cronk's 10-year career has not been without its bumps in the round, most recently the broken arm he was forced to overcome after Origin I this season.

In a testament to his character Cronk returned to Suncorp Stadium eight weeks later to steer Queensland to victory over NSW in Origin III.

Time out of the game was not something that sat easily with the competitive playmaker but perhaps it helped him rekindle a fire from his younger years.

"Sometimes you can get caught up in the professionalism and the size of rugby league but for me most recently I have really enjoyed the fact that I fell in the love with the sport when I was a kid," said Cronk.

"I sat two metres away from the television screen watching guys like Alan Langer and Brad Fittler play football and you just wanted to be a part of it one day."

Now at the top of the game himself and with years left in the purple jersey, Cronk has every chance of carving his own place in rugby league immortality.

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