Cronk understands Pearce disappointment
A candid Cooper Cronk has admitted Mitchell Pearce has every right to be disappointed with the Sydney Roosters' decision to sign Cronk to a two-year deal.
As Pearce jetted out to the United States on a three-week holiday on Tuesday, Cronk fronted a large media contingency in Canberra ahead of Friday's World Cup game against France to discuss his decision to link with the Tricolours.
While he maintains a desire for Pearce to remain at his new club, Cronk insists he can understand why his arrival has upset the much-maligned halfback. He reiterated a desire to see all Roosters players to have a "team-first mentality".
"It's easy for me because I'm not the one that's been put up in the paper and asked questions about," Cronk said.
"And he probably has every right to be disappointed and upset. But as I've said, as long as every player in the Roosters team, and every team, even the Kangaroos team, if you've got a selfless mindset to have a team-first mentality and do whatever it takes for the team to be as good as it possibly can be, well then you've got everyone rowing in the same direction and you enjoy coming to training because everyone's buying in for the common cause."
Cronk insists the opportunity to play alongside Pearce was one of the drawcards that came with signing for the Roosters.
While it's likely Pearce will spend some time on the bench and at hooker if he remains at the Roosters, Cronk insists he has no issue with being relegated to the bench if he isn't the right man for the job.
"I'll tell you this: one of the reasons for me to sign and play at the Roosters next year was to play with Mitchell Pearce," Cronk said.
"I think he's got an arsenal of weapons that not too many halves have in this game and I think he has the ability to be a dominant force in the halves for the years to come. There's a few areas that I think I can help him, and I know there's areas in his game that he's better equipped than me, and he can teach me something. So this is going to be a two-way street. At no stage, I want to say this clearly, am I thinking of going to the Roosters in 2018 and taking over and wanting to be front and centre because that's not my personality. I play team first.
"I'd like to think I help guys around me do their job as best as they possibly can and at the end of the day, Trent Robinson is the coach of the Sydney Roosters and I will fall into line. If I'm not [one of] the best halves in the Roosters team in round one or round 26 or whatever, I'll be sitting on the bench and do whatever I have to do to have this team play the best it possibly can because I think the Sydney Roosters in 2018 is better with Mitchell Pearce and Luke Keary involved."
The pressure will be squarely on Cronk's shoulders next season as he joins a star-studded team that will be favourite to win the premiership.
Cronk is no stranger to pressure, but the premiership-or-bust expectation isn't something that will weigh him down.
"I think everyone's got things to prove and things to get better at," Cronk said.
"Pressure's funny because I do like to be tested. I like to be put under the microscope in terms of seven o'clock on a Sunday night in a final, or a Friday night game, you have to perform at your best otherwise you're going to lose a game of football. But there's no pressure because you can't touch it, you can't feel it and you can't see it.
"Anything externally, the pressure will be out making sure we compete, making sure we train at an intensity, and making sure that we've got a desire to beat the opposition in every game we play. If you've got that and everyone's rowing in the same direction with a high set of skills, anything's possible. There's no ceiling on what we can do."
The decision to join the Roosters creates an interesting sub-plot given he will be part of the team that is arguably the biggest threat to his old club's premiership defence.
But Cronk says his relationship with people at the Melbourne Storm won't change because of the jersey he will wear for the next two years.
"My relationship with everyone at Melbourne Storm from the owners right down to the administration and coaching staff to the players, runs so much deeper than anything that a scoreboard or a game has to offer on a weekend," Cronk said.
"I've had some really good conversations with the closest people during my time at Melbourne and they were all very positive and gave me [their] blessing. But it is a by-product of me leaving – that at some stage I will have to play them.
"That's where I get tested. Can I handle the mental approach? Can I go out and still physically do the things that make me play well against a team that I know a lot about but they know more about me as well? I don't know when that game is but it will be pretty cool."