Smith weighs in on Cronk retirement
Storm captain Cameron Smith has given his thoughts on the playing future of close mate Cooper Cronk, who will depart Melbourne at season's end, saying if it was him he couldn't play for another club.
The future of the star 34-year-old – who announced early in the season that 2017 would be his last year with the Storm – has been a hot topic all year and will remain so until he makes a call on whether he is open to joining a Sydney club next year or will call time on his decorated career.
With Melbourne's dominant 2017 culminating in a premiership ring, there have been suggestions the two-time Dally M winner is even more likely to view it as the perfect end to a stunning career.
Speaking after the 34-6 Telstra Premiership Grand Final win, Smith said despite the joy it was a sad night for the Storm given it was Cronk's last game in purple.
"I couldn't have asked for a better or happier ending than what we gave him," Smith said.
"I know for sure that every player that went out there tonight wanted to do that for him. There's probably times there every one of us were fatigued or thought we couldn't get to the tackle or couldn't get to that next run but we wanted to get there for Coops and make sure that tonight was a special night for him.
"No matter what the result was going to be for him tonight it wasn't going to change his legacy at the Melbourne Storm but we certainly wanted to send him out the right way, the way he should have gone and that was to finish with a win and a deserved premiership."
 Telstra Premiership - Grand Final: Storm vs Cowboys
On whether he suspected Cronk would play on in the NRL next season, Smith said while he'd respect whatever decision his mate made it would be tough to play elsewhere after what.
"Putting myself in his shoes I don't know if I could go play for another club," Smith said.
"Particularly now, after a Grand Final win, it doesn't get much better than that. I don't know. Some clubs out there have got a million bucks, it's hard to knock that back too!
"I don't think Coops plays for that reason, he plays because he loves the game. He's loved our club for such a long time. Whatever he decides to do that's entirely up to him and we'll respect that but it would be a pretty tough decision to go on after a season and a game like tonight to finish at a club that he's been at since he was 17."
Coach Craig Bellamy also stressed the club would support whatever decision Cronk made.
"He's a long time retired and I said that to him when he told me he wasn't going to go on at the Storm, that he was going to move to Sydney," Bellamy said.
"I'm exactly like Smithy, at the end of the day his legacy isn't going to change at our club and what he's done for our club over such a long period of time has been quite amazing.
"He'll decide what's best for him and we'll respect that. It's his decision and if he wants to play on I'll support him all the way. If he wants to give it away I'll support him all the way there as well."