Pressure mounts on Croft as Storm losses pile up
Melbourne enjoyed over a decade of stability at halfback thanks to Cooper Cronk, but an indifferent start to their 2018 Telstra Premiership campaign has his successor feeling the heat.
The Storm went down 11-10 on Saturday to the Wests Tigers in the opening match of the Mt Smart double-header.
Croft, who has started every game this year, put in another shaky performance, including an embarrassing blunder when he failed to catch a kick restart, and again failed to take control of the match late - and this didn't go unnoticed by his coach.
"It certainly wasn't one of his better games," Craig Bellamy said.
Fresh from having his 400th game milestone spoilt, Bellamy gave no assurance his halfback's spot was safe when asked by members of the media.
"We'll go back, look at the film and make a call from there," he said.
Croft had a chance to snatch the game late, spraying a field goal attempt in the closing stages.
Off the ensuing seven-tackle set the Tigers marched up field and Benji Marshall showed the 20-year-old how it was done and slotted the decisive one-pointer.
Though clearly not pleased with the overall play of his young half, Bellamy was quick to point out the rest of the Storm side weren't making Croft's job any easier.
"He's only a young kid and he's still learning. In basically all of our games this year we have put ourselves under pressure so it hasn't been an easy learning curve for him."
On the other side of the field, Bellamy said he felt Croft's halves partner Cameron Munster put in his best performance of the year.
"I thought he run the ball really well and looked dangerous throughout," he said.
Should Bellamy elect to go in another direction at halfback, he does have 25-year-old Ryley Jacks waiting in the wings.
The off-contract Jacks has played 17 games for the Storm and has been linked with a potential move north to the Broncos in recent weeks.