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Cronk's recovery: An expert's view

Roosters star Cooper Cronk may not be volunteering too many details about the shoulder injury that could keep him out of Sunday's grand final but one expert has spoken on the pitfalls he faces if he takes on the Storm.

Cronk conceded on Monday morning he was "a long shot" of being fit for the grand final against his former club Melbourne, but was coy when it came to the specifics.

"I'm not going to go into the details of the injury because at the moment, with all due respect, it's on a need-to-know basis and at the moment you don't need to know," Cronk told reporters.

"The whole idea is, it's one hell of a game, we've got seven days. I'm going to do everything I possibly can to play on Sunday."

Dr Justin Keogh, an associate professor in exercise and sports science at Bond University, said the Roosters medical team faced a difficult balancing act of strengthening Cronk's shoulder while also giving him enough time to recover. Dr Keogh spoke without first-hand knowledge of Cronk's injury.

"The shoulder is one of the worst if not the worst joints in terms of mobility strength. Because you move it through such a large range of motion, it is really difficult to supply lots of support, because then you have to limit range," Dr Keogh said.

Cronk a long shot to play in Grand Final

"The demands of rugby league in terms of tackling, passing, running, it is very likely it will be aggravated multiple times through the game. Each contact will make it worse and could cause more damage.

 "You need to be able to lift your arm, and that is seriously in question with Cooper Cronk.

"There are ways you can strap it, but the support will be questionable, just by the nature of the range of movement the shoulder needs to operate. As the game progresses and you start sweating, the elasticity of that tape and the support it provides reduces. It doesn't hold that position effectively throughout 80 minutes.

"In a normal tackling position, especially for someone the size of Cronk, the arm is elevated above the shoulder, it is difficult to provide support without limiting range, especially in that position.

"It is going to be very awkward in terms of pain and discomfort. These guys live with pain throughout games, but it is going to be tough for him. I don't think it will be fun."

Dr Keogh said the one-week time frame before the grand final makes calculating Cronk's recovery difficult – with the risk of doing more damage to the shoulder while trying to fast-track his rehab.

Cronk injured

"They'll be doing everything they possibly can to get him ready, but based on what we saw in that second half, if he does play, it is incredibly unlikely that he'll be close to 100 per cent," he said.

"The big challenge is trying to regain pain-free strength and range of motion. Any time a structure gets injured, the body part that is injured will lock up. For him to regain that movement those tissues need to regenerate in a week. For that to happen you need to apply some mechanical stress on those tissues to realign, but they also need time to rest to recover.

"If the physio recommends doing something five times a day, you can potentially do more damage to the tissues if you try to do more than the recommendation because they won't have time to recover.

"This happens a lot around grand finals and Olympic finals, there is no recipe to follow, the medical team are making educated guesses, because the body isn't meant to recover that quickly.

"They won't be able to test Cooper before the [grand] final at risk of doing more damage or another injury."

 

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