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26 Feb 2018 1:00
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby League

    Sharks players would welcome Cooper Cronk

    Cronulla players say they would happily have Cooper Cronk at the NRL club, despite the rivalry they have formed with him at Melbourne.

    - article from www.rugbyleague.co.nz

    Cronulla players say they would welcome Cooper Cronk to the NRL club with open arms, despite their heated rivalry with Melbourne.

    Cronk is yet to confirm if he will play on in 2018, after he announced earlier this season he would be leaving the Storm to move to Sydney for personal reasons.

    Sharks coach Shane Flanagan admitted this week he was regularly speaking with the star halfback's manager, in a potential move that could see James Maloney leave the premiers.

    The Cronulla-Melbourne rivalry is the fiercest in the NRL, with last year's grand final only adding to complaints of wrestling between the two sides and a natural feud already developed by State of Origin.

    While Sharks teammates are steadfast in their support of Maloney, they insist they would have no issue welcoming one of their arch-rivals as a teammate.

    "We've got Josh Dugan coming here from the Dragons next year and we have a pretty big rivalry against St George Illawarra," halfback Chad Townsend said.

    "I think once that stuff happens the rivalry goes out the door.

    "But Jimmy is on contract next year ... He's a quality player, someone I've enjoyed playing along with and I've learned a lot off."

    Veteran forward Chris Heighington could see the lighter side of Cronk's possible arrival, pointing at an obvious positive for the Kangaroos No.7.

    "At least Wadeo (Graham) wouldn't be caning him every time he got the ball," Heighington said.

    "If he does come that would be awesome for the club."

    Flanagan is unsure if Cronk will play on but is aware it could solve Maloney's contract issue -- with the NSW five-eighth understood to be chasing an upgrade of his Sharks deal that is no more than $600,000 a season.

    Maloney has another year left at Cronulla, but Newcastle or South Sydney are likely to pick up the crumbs with far bigger offers if he is let go by the Sharks.

    A situation that Flanagan has indicated will only happen if Cronk is purchased.

    "If it's true clubs will pay (Maloney) $1 million, I can't go there," Flanagan told News Corp Australia.

    "But he's on contract with us next year, I'll stand by that, and I think he'll stand by that.

    "If there's an option there for us, we'll see what happens."


    NZN




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