Cronk's lasting legacy for Storm youngsters

Cooper Cronk's legacy will live on at the Melbourne Storm long after the final whistle is blown on Sunday, with young stars Ryley Jacks, Brodie Croft and Jahrome Hughes ready to carry the baton in his place. 

‌Cronk will depart the Storm at season's end, taking the field on Sunday night for possibly the last time as he weighs up retirement. 

A win over the North Queensland Cowboys in the decider would be the perfect send-off for the two-time Dally M Medallist who has put his heart and soul into the Storm since making his debut for the club in 2004. 

As his career has entered the latter stages Cronk has become a mentor for the next generation - not just with his words but his actions. 

Promising half Jacks made his NRL debut for the Storm this year and has worked closely with Cronk, watching the veteran No.7 closely to learn all he can. 

Speaking exclusively with NRL.com, Jacks said it had been a privilege to work with Cronk and learn from one of the game's greats. 

"He's been great for me. I know he's leaving but I'm pretty honoured to have been at the club for his last year. I've learnt so much off him," Jacks said.

"It's not really what he says to me, it's more about his actions. I just watch him and I pick up so much. It's the same with Cameron (Smith) and Billy (Slater). 

"Cooper has been massive for me this year and I'm privileged to have experienced that." 

Whether he plays on next year for another NRL club or decides to retire, Cronk will be remembered for all the right reasons at the Storm. 

But the time for reminiscing will be put to the side until after the NRL Grand Final, with Melbourne firmly focussed on the game at hand and not the side stories that accompany it. 

"We've purposely not discussed that this week," Storm Football Director Frank Ponissi said of Cronk's farewell.

"We had a great send-off for him in Round 26. The club did a fantastic tribute for him publicly, and then last week we spoke of Cooper's last game at AAMI Park for Melbourne. 

"But this week we'll just keep it in the back of our minds that it's his last game, as well as the last game for Jordan McLean and Tohu Harris. 

"It'll be a special moment [if we win]. We'd like to finish on a happy ending but as we found out last year that can be tough."

2016 finished with a heartbreaking 14-12 loss to the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks in the decider and Melbourne will be doing all they can to go one better in 2017.