Cronk unlikely for Manly clash
Storm halfback Cooper Cronk has left town, adding fuel to the fire that he is in doubt of Saturday's home ANZAC Day clash with Manly.
NRL.com can reveal the star playmaker was spotted in the departures lounge at Melbourne airport late Wednesday afternoon.
Cronk has failed to train with the main group this week, battling what is said to be the flu with the club yet to officially rule him for Round 8.
When contacted for comment the Storm indicated that Thursday was a designated day off for the players and thus players were free to make plans as they wished.
However the fact Cronk finds himself out of town, two days out from game day on the back of minimal preparation, leaves his chances of playing significantly reduced.
It is widely known the Maroons No.7 has been nursing a sore body after enduring a series of big hits in recent weeks.
The Victorian side currently sits in top spot on the ladder and with next week's Trans-Tasman Test looming the temptation may be there from the Melbourne hierarchy to rest the 31-year-old against the last-placed Sea Eagles.
Speaking prior to Wednesday's training session, coach Craig Bellamy was not full of confidence his star halfback would be ready to run out on AAMI Park against arch rivals Manly.
"He's still not real well to be quite honest," Bellamy said.
"We expect him to play Saturday but at this stage missing two days training has not been ideal. Hopefully we will be right for Friday's session but we will just have to see how he goes.
"He's been a little bit battered this year as well, especially in the Canberra game [two weeks ago] but he played last week, he's probably used to that now, it's part and parcel of the position he plays."
Billy Slater took part in the week's main training session, which has created an intriguing few days as to the make up of the Storm side ahead of the ANZAC Day showpiece.
Bellamy indicated Shaun Nona could be in line to make his debut for Melbourne should Cronk fail to play, with Ben Hampton also forced to watch Wednesday's session from the sidelines with hamstring soreness.
Cronk's potential absence brings an intriguing twist to Saturday's top v bottom clash.
Kieran Foran returns for the Sea Eagles while Daly Cherry-Evans was the match-winner last time the two teams meet in Round 2, with two try assists and two line breaks.
Kick-off will be at 6.15pm on Saturday with a huge crowd expected at AAMI Park.