Cronk's pride in new Kiwis skipper
Veteran Kangaroos halfback Cooper Cronk was one of the first to congratulate Melbourne teammate Jesse Bromwich when it was known he would skipper the Kiwis for the first time this Friday night.
Cronk didn't shy away from his pride in the 26-year-old and said it was a credit to the Storm's culture that two of their own – Bromwich and Cameron Smith – would be leading their respective countries out on to Hunter Stadium for the Trans-Tasman test.
"As a fellow Melbourne Storm player, I couldn’t be more proud of him. I'm so happy for him and his achievements as a person and a footballer. It's a tremendous occasion for him," Cronk told NRL.com.
"You can see when something is bubbling inside. You could see his big smile and you could see he had that big moment [when he found out]. We know we're playing him in five days but Cameron and I were the first to congratulate him.
"It's absolutely deserved and I'm sure he'll be playing with a bit of extra spice and responsibility. I think it's a feather in the cap for the Melbourne Storm too for providing a culture to have the Australian and Kiwi captains from the same team.
"He's a dear friend of mine and I have a lot of time for him, but come Friday night though I'll be trying to get one up on him."
Cronk was confident that Bromwich would prove a handy replacement as skipper of the Storm once Smith finally decides to hang up the boots on his illustrious career.
"There's no doubt he'll be a future leader at the Melbourne Storm. There's an emergence of leaders under Cameron and when he decides to move on that crop will take over," Cronk said.
"Obviously Jesse has done a tremendous job so far in his career but he's also not an inspirational talker. He won't read out the commandments before a game.
"He leads more with his actions and he inspires his teammates through them with what he does on the field."
If you told captaincy counterpart Smith that Bromwich would eventually become the Kiwis skipper he would have said you were crazy.
"For a while there we didn't know what he was going to make of his career. He seemed very happy just to be in first grade. Now I think he's realised his capabilities of what he can actually do in the game,” Smith said.
"It's going to be great coming up against him. I don't know if there's ever been a Test match where both countries captains have come from one club. It's an honour to captain my country and it will be for Jesse as well.”
Meanwhile, Cronk isn't buying into the Kangaroos' new era under former Maroons mentor and rookie test coach Mal Meninga.
The 27-time Kangaroos representative said the imperative focus of the Australian team – no matter who the coach is – hasn't and won't change.
"The responsibility to represent Australia is paramount. To go out there and represent 23 million people, sing the national anthem and face the haka, that's a moment I cherish. That's enough inspiration for me to go out there and do my job," Cronk said.
"There's a lot of talk about Mal, the changing of the guard and a new era but to be fair the only thing that changes is that Mal wears a different shirt. It's green and gold this time. He'll instil his beliefs and structures and we'll play with the utmost respect.
"He has a philosophy that he believes wins games of football. There's plenty of players who have been coached by him for a number of years and he'll do what he likes to do in terms of building up for the week."