Bellamy hoping Cronk finishes career at Storm
It's a deal that has been close to being finalised for more weeks than Craig Bellamy would care to recall but the Melbourne Storm coach remains hopeful that Cooper Cronk will agree to a new contract and play out the rest of his career in Melbourne.
Due to turn 33 at the end of the year and now just 10 games from joining Cameron Smith as the only two men to have played 300 games for the Storm, Cronk remains the most high-profile player yet to have penned a deal for next season.
As they have in the past, NRL clubs are circling with big-money offers to try and tempt the State of Origin and Test star away from the Victorian capital but indications are that he will commit once again to the club where he made his NRL debut in 2004.
Bellamy and Smith are both contracted until the end of the 2018 season and the coach would very much like to see his star halfback finish his career where it started 13 seasons ago.
"I don't think it's too far away but I've said that a few times," Bellamy said.
"I'm sure there are a couple of things there that need to be sorted out and hopefully they'll be done soon.
"Hopefully, like the bloke next to me (Smith) and hopefully Billy [Slater] as well, they can all finish off their careers where they should be finishing them of and that's with the Storm."
While Origin players in the Broncos team looked tired at times during the 48-6 loss on Friday night Cronk was at his clinical best, making sure that any opportunities afforded the Storm more often than not finished in points.
He laid on three tries in the space of seven minutes midway through the first half with a short ball, pin-point accurate kick and cut-out pass that put Ryan Morgan on the outside of the Brisbane defence to blow the game apart in an instant.
In previous stints at Parramatta and Manly Cheyse Blair has played alongside the likes of Jarryd Hayne, Daly Cherry-Evans and Kieran Foran but says none match the game management skills of Cronk.
"He just knows the right option," Blair told NRL.com.
"You have got halves out there that try to do something pretty but he just knows where the ball's got to be, and it's the same with 'Smithy' too.
"I've said it time and time again that it was the first thing I noticed coming down to play with them two, just how the game is managed and it's pretty good to play outside."