The Roosters and Storm have defended Cooper Cronk as a "man of outstanding character and integrity", dismissing suggestions of a conflict of interest as he holds consultancy roles on the payroll of both premiership heavyweights.
Both clubs have issued statements defending the champion half after photos of Cronk at Melbourne training generated "double agent" headlines.
Cronk has held a halves consultancy role with the Roosters since retiring with back-to-back premierships at the end of 2019, while he was also set to help mentor former Storm teammates last year until the COVID-19 pandemic shifted their training base to the Sunshine Coast and put a halt to that arrangement.
He has since taken that up again, with Storm football manager Frank Ponissi saying the "mentoring role with our halves is very different to that of his work with the Roosters".
"When Cooper’s agreements were being crafted with both clubs after he retired, we were fully aware of his role with both organisations.
"They are very different roles and roles that we are 100% comfortable with."
Storm coach Craig Bellamy added he hasn’t "met anyone with higher integrity in the game" than Cronk as he prepares his side for the Telstra Premiership season opener against South Sydney on Thursday.
The four-time premiership-winning playmaker - two each at the Roosters and Storm - also holds a commercial position with Melbourne alongside his Fox Sports commentary duties.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said "it is no secret to me that he mentors the Storm halves and works in their commercial department," as he defended Cronk's employment at both 2018 grand finalists.
"First and foremost, Cooper Cronk is a man of integrity," Robinson said.
Countdown to kick-off: Three days to go
"His ability to share his knowledge and insight whilst holding the strength of the two organisations is unquestionable.
"Cooper has been clear and transparent with me about his role from the outset and as far as we are concerned, it’s business as usual."
Cronk's post-football career was a regular talking point during his final 2019 campaign.
Both Melbourne and the Roosters pushed for his services while he also took on a leadership consultancy gig with AFL's GWS Giants that was put on hold when their season was delayed by COVID-19.
The on-field components of Cronk's Roosters and Storm employment fall under the NRL's football department salary cap.
Former Tricolours teammates James Tedesco and Brett Morris both said on Monday they had no issues with Cronk's dual roles, with that latter pointing out Andrew Johns has also juggled consultancy roles at rival NRL clubs previously.
"He spent the majority of his career down in Melbourne, he came here to the Roosters and had great success and obviously both clubs would want to use his talents," Morris said.
"Cooper’s retired now; he’s got to pay his bills.
"He gets paid by two clubs to pay his bills and I don’t have an issue with it.
"We’ve seen in the past Andrew Johns used to do four, five clubs at a time and no one ever questioned Joey, so the players here, I don’t think we’ve got an issue with it.
"We know Coops, we know what he’s like and we can probably put that to bed here."
The prospect of the Storm and Roosters clashing come finals time is a distinct possibility given their pedigree, but Tedesco, who described Cronk as a "vault", said he couldn't see a conflict arising at season's end.
"He’d probably think he’s done the work during the year and then trust both teams to back themselves in the GF if it comes down to that," Tedesco said.
"I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. He keeps everything to himself."
Cronk told NRL 360 on Monday night that he would continue to work with both clubs but the Roosters were his priority.
NRL Magic Round Brisbane 1-Day Passes are now on sale with eight massive games across round 10 at Suncorp Stadium this May. With the league's best players all heading to Brisbane, you'd hate to miss it! Tickets at NRL.com/Tickets