Cooper Cronk can join one more of league’s exclusive clubs


Mr September/October is into yet another NRL grand final and if Cooper Cronk can steer the Roosters to victory in his last club game, he will join an elite group - the Fairytale Finish Club.

Cronk could add his name to the list of Cinderella send-offs that includes Michael Cronin and Ray Price (Parramatta 1986), Royce Simmons (Penrith 1991), Mal Meninga (Canberra 1994), Glenn Lazarus (Melbourne 1999), Shane Webcke (Brisbane 2006), Steve Menzies (2008) and Michael Ennis (2016).

Big Mal (1994 Kangaroo tour) and Beaver Menzies (English Super League) did not hang-up their boots straight away but their grand final glory was their last salvo on Australian soil with their beloved clubs.

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Cronk will play his final game on Sunday. Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images.
Cronk will play his final game on Sunday. Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images.



HE has played for Queensland and Australia but rampaging Raiders forward Josh Papalii has never played better footy than right now.

Since the State of Origin series, Papalii has been a terrifying model of bone-crunching, yard-munching consistency to emphatically grab the tag of the game's best prop.

He was simply outstanding against the Rabbitohs and the right decision was made by the match review committee to clear him for the tackle on Adam Doueihi. You can't be missing a grand final for something like that.


WITH the salary cap and the sheer brutality of the sport, winning back-to-back titles is rare for good reason. Brisbane were the last to do it in a unified competition (1992-93) and also claimed the 1998 NRL premiership after winning the 1997 Super League crown.

Just to get back to the big dance is an outstanding achievement by the Chooks who were led magnificently by skipper Boyd Cordner in the savage preliminary final win over the Storm. He provided the muscle, James Tedesco brought the hustle.

Cordner was man of the match on Saturday night. AAP Image/Craig Golding.
Cordner was man of the match on Saturday night. AAP Image/Craig Golding.


LOVE or hate him, you have to rate the coaching performance by Ricky Stuart to get his Raiders into the season showpiece.

With a mixture of pride, passion, perspiration, preparation and premium Pommy recruits, Ricky has revved up the Green Machine again. Their journey to the grand final is a great story for rugby league.

If you aren't a dyed-in-the-wool Rooster booster, you are on the lime green bandwagon this week.


THE Broncos have copped a battering on and off the field in recent weeks but one thing you can never, ever criticise Brisbane for is their outstanding community work.

A perfect example of their extensive efforts out and about among the people was last week when they sent a 50-strong party out to Stanthorpe to spread some cheer in the region that has been hit hard by the drought and recent bushfires.

Matt Lodge, Matt Gillett, Tevita Pangai Jnr, Joe Ofahengaue and Tom Dearden were joined by Broncos staff members for the free day of activities that included a BBQ, coaching clinic, autographs and games of touch footy with the very appreciative and enthusiastic locals.

"Obviously the town has been doing it a bit tough over the last couple weeks and last couple of years with the drought," former club captain Justin Hodges said.

"There's a lot of Broncos members and fans out here as well. We just wanted to come and show support, have a bit of fun with the kids and give the parents a bit of a break as well."

The Broncos worked with charity GIVIT to help raise funds and distribute goods to bushfire victims.



Even with the thousands of free tickets given away in the build-up to the Roosters-Storm prelim, there were still plenty of empty seats at the SCG on Saturday night.

Is it because of the oval ground that makes viewing difficult? The small number of Roosters supporters combined with the visiting team being from out of town? The general reluctance of Sydney footy fans to leave their lounge rooms?

Maybe all of the above. Makes you wonder why the NSW government is spending squillions on stadiums when punters don't vote with their feet.


Souths were bundled out of the premiership race in 2018 after scoring just four points in the preliminary final loss to the Roosters.

Fast-forward 12 months, and the Bunnies were only able to put 10 points on the scoreboard in the prelim final loss to the Raiders (with a try in the dying minutes helping them reach double figures)

Their attack looked disorganised and disjointed when it mattered most. Again. You can pile on all the points you want in the home-and-away rounds but it counts for zip when the whips are cracking.

Once again, South Sydney’s attack failed to fire. Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images.
Once again, South Sydney’s attack failed to fire. Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images.


Broncos coach Anthony Seibold has been bagged by some for not advancing Brisbane from their Week 1 finals exit in 2018 under Wayne Bennett.

Well, Uncle Wayne was also unable to advance the Rabbitohs from their 2018 preliminary final finish under Seibold. After flying out of the blocks to start the season, Souths started to fall apart in the back-end of the year and just held on to a top-four spot. They were belted by the Chooks and lucky to beat Manly in the finals before falling to the Raiders. Not so super from the supercoach.


The automatic sin bin for slapping is a silly rule. But it is a rule none the less. And players have to get their heads - and wayward open hands - around it. To have two players in the sin bin just 20 seconds into the Roosters-Storm clash showed a lack of control.

Both players should have known better. Picture by Brett Costello.
Both players should have known better. Picture by Brett Costello.


By their very lofty standards, Melbourne will be bitterly disappointed to finish their season in the preliminary final, especially after winning the minor premiership by six points.

Finishing three matches clear at the top of the table may have been a little misleading though. They won several close games throughout the year that could have gone either way, and only truly hit top gear a handful of times.

They had an off night against the Chooks as their attack failed to fire but still fought to the end.