Cameron Smith insists the Melbourne Storm do not expect young half Brodie Croft to be the next Cooper Cronk but just to simply bring his own best qualities to the table each week.
The 20-year-old Croft was a standout in the World Club Challenge win over the Leeds Rhinos and had some nice touches in the 16-14 loss to the North Queensland Cowboys on Friday night, but was not as dominant.
Croft did the ultimate apprenticeship under Cronk and the more he plays for the Storm the clearer it becomes that he was a quick learner.
The young half’s body language with the way he runs back to the defensive line, even the way he gestures to his troops when barking orders, is Cronkesque.
The shoes of Cronk are not ones that Smith expects Croft to slip into.
"He’s a young kid who is 20 and has a lot to learn, but he’s had a pretty good start being behind Cooper for a couple of years now and learning a few things off him," Smith said.
"But at the end of the day he’s a young player and he’s not trying to replace Cooper, and we don’t want him to replace Cooper.
"All I am asking of Brodie is to find out the best things he can bring to our team and do that every week consistently."
On Friday night Croft took a pass off Smith and ran a slick angle before throwing a perfectly timed ball to fullback Jahrome Hughes who found a flying Young Tonumaipea to score the first try of the match.
Croft slipped through a Thurston tackle not long afterwards and Hughes went within a metre of scoring, and sent through a brilliant left-foot kick in the second half to get a repeat set.
Coach Craig Bellamy suggested Croft would have his challenges in the Telstra Premiership where the weekly grind is relentless.
"We all saw the impact last week that he had on the game, although I don’t think he had the impact tonight he had last week," Bellamy said.
"He is a young guy and he is playing in a key position so it won’t be a bunch of roses every week for him.
"He needs to get that consistency in him and after last week he’s probably had a little bit of a letdown, but he needs to get himself back up in a couple of weeks."
Smith said Croft had been training well in the three weeks he’d had with him in the pre-season, with his performance against Leeds a standout.
"He was quite dominant with the way he played, with his calls and his kicking game," Smith said.
"He ran the ball strongly and steered the team around quite well."