Cronk ready for new halves partner
Another year, another partner in the halves. That's the challenge awaiting Storm halfback Cooper Cronk.
Since taking the reins from Matt Orford in 2006, Cronk has lined up alongside more than half-a-dozen five-eighths in the Victorian capital.
In his first year as the Storm's chief playmaker Cronk partnered veteran stand-off Scott Hill, before Greg Inglis was shifted to five-eighth for two-and-a-bit seasons.
The arrival of Brett Finch midway through the 2009 campaign saw another change in personnel, and Gareth Widdop's ascension to first grade in 2011 made it four permanent five-eighths in six seasons, not to mention the likes of Luke Kelly, James Maloney and even Cameron Smith filling in at times.
Ben Hampton and Ben Roberts were used on and off in 2014 before Blake Green joined the club the following season, forging a formidable partnership for the next two years.
Despite the constant chopping and changing Cronk has taken the Storm to six grand finals with Hill, Inglis, Finch, Widdop and Green taking it in turns to wear the No.6 jersey.
Blake Green's move to Manly means Cronk will have to start afresh for what feels like the umpteenth time, but it's a scenario that doesn't faze him.
Cameron Munster is expected to relinquish the No.1 jersey for the returning Billy Slater and in turn shift to the halves despite making the fullback role his own in recent years.
It wouldn't be the first time the Storm have turned a fullback into a playmaker and Munster's probable switch has drawn comparisons to Inglis's move back in 2007.
"I think over my time at the club we've had different five-eighth options," Cronk said.
"We had a good run there with Greg Inglis who isn't a natural five-eighth, but he possesses some of the skills that Cameron Munster does. His ability to run the football and break tackles is his main attribute. Ball-playing is probably not high up on the agenda.
"Then you had Blake Green last year who is a pure ball-player. I think I combine well with different players.
"There'll be a couple of different structures if we have a Cameron Munster-like player, but don't rule out Brodie Croft or Curtis Scott. Those guys bring different dimensions to our team and we'll accommodate those."
While there are no guarantees that Munster will wear the No.6 jersey in 2017, Cronk said he and the 22-year-old would work well together if given the chance.
The pair looked slick as halfback and fullback last season but with Slater set to return from a crippling shoulder injury it appears the Storm's spine is set for another switch.
"I think the last two years with Billy being out, I think we've developed that combination instinctively and it's improved," he said.
"In terms of the position that Cameron Munster will play, it's sort of up in the air at the moment. Billy is training well, Cameron Munster is training well, so we've got some good headaches there in terms of decision-making and positional play.
"If both are fit, there will be a position for both of them in the football team. They're both elite players in the game at the moment."