No.6 my ultimate goal: Croft
Young Storm half Brodie Croft says he is ready to fulfil a childhood dream by starting with Queensland legend Cooper Cronk come Round 1 of the 2017 NRL season.
Competition is heating up for the Storm's five-eighth jersey after the ever-reliable Blake Green departed the club for the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at the end of 2016.
The door is open for Croft, with Cameron Munster failing to impress at five-eighth in Melbourne's 30-18 trial win over the New Zealand Warriors at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Saturday night.
Croft was a standout at halfback in that match, playing well above his age as he helped his side come back from an 18-0 deficit.
The 19-year-old said he is happy to make the switch from halfback to five-eighth, with the fact he is in consideration for Round 1 spurring him on.
"Starting at five-eighth is the ultimate goal for this pre-season," Croft said.
"The No.6 jersey is obviously vacant since Blake Green left. Until Round 1 we won't know who will take his place.
"I'm putting my best foot forward and training as hard as I can to try and earn that jersey.
"The fact that I know that I am being considered for that starting spot is constantly in the back of my mind."
It was not just Saturday night's trial that brought attention to Croft, with the exciting Queenslander also being named in the Downer Auckland Nines Team of the Tournament after an excellent showing at the two-day event.
South Sydney halfback Adam Reynolds tweeted during the tournament that he thought Croft was a clone of Cronk and it's not hard to see why the teenager grabbed the attention of one of the NRL's finest halfbacks.
Croft's running style, kicking game and mannerisms are all replicas of Cronk's, with many pundits on the Sunshine Coast having to do a double take to check if they were watching Queensland's great halfback.
It's something Croft prides himself on, with the Highfields junior making no secret of his love for his sporting idol.
"Cooper Cronk was the biggest reason I moved down to Melbourne. There is no better halfback to learn from," he said.
"He's the ultimate professional with the way he goes about his business.
I have to keep pinching myself that I'm actually training with him every day. He's someone that I've always looked up to, especially as a kid.
"It would be pretty special to run out with him in the halves in Round 1 if I manage to get picked.
"There's still a long way to go and a lot can happen in the next few weeks. I'm just happy playing good footy so we'll see what Craig [Bellamy] does for Round 1."
After another impressive performance, Croft is expected to make the journey to Hobart for Melbourne's last trial match against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs on Saturday night.
It looms as a huge game for the youngster as it is his last chance to impress coach Craig Bellamy and cement a Round 1 start.