Cronk: Johnson benefitting from Green's subtle magic
Cooper Cronk is already seeing the Warriors own million-dollar man Shaun Johnson benefiting from the subtle Blake Green magic that lifted him to career-best form at the Melbourne Storm.
Cronk and his Sydney Roosters will host a rejuvenated Warriors outfit on Saturday, with the Green-Johnson halves partnership delivering a 3-0 start for the first time in the club's 23-year history.
Green's second coming in the NRL started outside Cronk in 2015, when he landed in the southern capital from Super League after bouncing around reserve grade at three Sydney rivals.
Within 12 months of Green's arrival Cronk and the Storm were back in genuine premiership contention, with the veteran No.7 claiming his first Golden Boot as the best player in the world, and his second Dally M medal en route to the 2016 grand final.
Green's ability to ease pressure on a big-name halves partner was exactly why Manly lured him north last year to complement Daly Cherry-Evans.
Not without irony, Cronk's own re-signing at the Storm that year saw them unable to compete with the money offered to Green by the Sea Eagles.
The Warriors in turn swooped with a three-year deal last November to make Green their guiding hand, while Johnson is encouraged to unleash the running game that has landed him an estimated $1 million salary.
"He's obviously got a skill set that not too many players in the game have and knowing Blake Green like I do, he's probably gone there and allowed Shaun just to not worry about the stresses that are involved in playing the halfback position," Cronk said.
"Blake's obviously taken that load off and allows Shaun just to cruise around."
Asked if Green could unlock the nigh-on infinite potential of Johnson and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Cronk pulled back slightly, but still heaped praise on his former halves partner.
"That's a big question after three weeks, ask that question again in 20 weeks' time," Cronk cautioned.
"But from my point of view, Blake Green's a tremendous player. I had the privilege of playing alongside him and we worked well together.
"He went to Manly and obviously allowed Daly Cherry-Evans to roam freely and have a really good year so let's not discount the impact that someone like Blake Green has.
"One, his skill set but two, his temperament, his ability to get around the field and understand the game, to pass the ball when needed to and run the ball and kick when needed to.
"He's a tremendous fella Greeny, and I've got a lot respect for him."
Aside from Green, there's a serious Storm flavour to the Warriors' impressive 2018 start.
Cronk's first season at Melbourne coincided with Stephen Kearney last as a player before graduating to Craig Bellamy's coaching staff.
This year Kearney brought back-rower Tohu Harris home after he rose to regular New Zealand Test honours under Bellamy, while former Storm staffer Alex Corvo has been credited with whipping the Warriors into rarely seen shape over the summer.
"There's no doubt that they've got a coach that I've got a lot of respect for in Stephen Kearney," Cronk said of the familiar faces behind the Warriors undefeated season so far.
"They've got a few players I used to play with in Tohu Harris and Blake Green… For them to be 3-0, playing really good football under pressure situations and coming up trumps in that game against Canberra on the weekend, they're obviously doing some good things.
"They've obviously put in a lot of kilometres and a lot of work in the gym to get physically ready for the season."