• Sun. Aug 14th, 2022

Rugby league legend Cooper Cronk has spoken publicly for the first time about the media storm surrounding his coaching roles with the Roosters and the Storm.

Mar 8, 2021

The Daily Telegraph late last week published an article revealing Cronk is collecting a six-figure salary from the Roosters, while also being paid by Melbourne to do work with the clubs halves, as well as a commercial role for the Victorian club.
Cronk was labelled a double agent in a newspaper headline in Sydney.
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Round 1
On Monday night Cronk had the chance to respond to Telegraph journalist Phil Rothfield when they sat side-by-side on the NRL 360 desk.
Cooper is saying I havent missed… at no stage have I questioned the integrity or the respect that hes held within the game, Rothfield said.
Last Thursday I was sent photos from Melbourne Storms training session, with a caption on the photo saying Cooper and Billy running the session. I thought this is a bit unusual, I didnt know anything about this, I knew you had the gig at the Roosters.
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Cronk: ‘You questioned my integrity’
1:44
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I made some inquiries. As far as Im concerned theres been a massive communication breakdown… Trent Robinson obviously hasnt told senior management at the Roosters youre coaching Storm, because when that photo appeared the Roosters management was straight on the phone to your manager George Mimis and said what is Cooper doing coaching the side?.
I then spoke to George Mimis and George said youre wrong, ne was invited out by Ryan Hoffman to do this one session, hes a corporate sponsorship ambassador.
I then spoke to Frank Ponissi that night and he said no youre not, you do the spine, you do the halves, you do the leadership group. I thought this is a fair story.
Im not questioning your integrity at all but Im wondering how you can juggle both. Thats where it became a story.
As an observer I find it extremely difficult how you can juggle both jobs.
Cronk then responded.
“Both clubs have signed off on it and have allowed it and it will continue.”
Cronk responds to Buzz’s accusations and hits back at double agent claims on #NRL360
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You think its a conflict of interest? I get that, thats your personal views, thats your thoughts. But in no way, shape, or form should you cast that on me, Cronk said.
Im a completely different person to you Buzz, so what you think is impossible I think is possible. We are completely different people, you dont know me and I act in a different way that would say I absolutely respect the two clubs.
Theres no way I would do the proverbial you-know-what in my own backyard considering Ive spilt blood for both these clubs. My relationships with arguably the four most influential people in this game in Craig Bellamy, Frank Ponissi, Trent Robinson, and Nick Politis is long, its strong, and it will continue for a period of time.
Did you read the press release today from Trent Robinson? He said from the get-go it was absolutely crystal clear and transparent that my role with the Melbourne Storm would be corporate weighted, with a little bit of individual coaching of the halves, and Trent Robinson signed off on that.
Cronk and Buzz set the record straight
2:57
I sat in his office and we spoke about it. We spoke about it today, and he put it in his press release.
Everything that happens at the Sydney Roosters, Trent Robinson and Nick Politis are across, so I think thats a little bit far-fetched.
The other part about Melbourne Storm on the social media channels, I had missed calls and text messages and spoke to Frank Ponissi and Craig Bellamy and the new CEO and they apologised for their words and their error of judgments and the producing of that, they apologised on the record.
They knew they werent meant to do that, the new media department overstepped the mark.
Theres no way consultants run a session. The reason I went down to Melbourne was to be a part of their corporate event on that night, so I dovetailed the session where I had five minutes with Jahrome Hughes face-to-face, which is the second time in two years Ive had face-to-face contact with the Storm halves.
The other time was January 2020 when they were down in Geelong, again another corporate event where I dovetailed some face-to-face time in.
To say Im always involved is not right, because Ive had two face-to-face sessions with Storm halves in two years, Ive had less than 10 phone calls and Zoom chats. To say its structured influential is not true, its actually ad hoc, ad lib, very casual, and its because of the respect I have from both clubs they signed off on it, they allowed it, and they will continue because you saw the press releases today.
As a consultant, as a player, we have no way, shape or form in understanding why money gets put into salary cap, thats not my (decision) thats administration.
Cronk then was asked to clarify his roles with both clubs.
Roosters is all-encompassing, Im in there one day a week, up to two days. Im canvassing conversations, Im part of game plan, Im doing analysis, Im going through video, Im hands-on work day to day, week to week, and hopefully help determine results.
The Melbourne Storm job is heavily weighted corporate, and as Ive said Ive had less than 12 or 15 interactions, two face-to-face and less than 10 by Zoom, and all I do is individual coaching and mentoring for Jahrome Hughes and Cameron Munster.
Thats not done face to face, its about everything you do when you catch the football, and movement and speed, and that part of it. I never talk strategy, I dont know their plays, Im not in the inner sanctum, and Ive got no understanding of how they want to play against teams. I dont have a say in their results or how they play on a weekend.
Whereas the Roosters Im well entrenched and I have a little bit of a say how they play on weekends.
Rothfield then explained the perception from outside the Roosters and Storm.
He pointed to Fox Leagues other great analyst, Michael Ennis, and his role with Canberra Raiders and whether they would let him also work with Cronulla.
I still think theres been a communication breakdown, and that youre (Cronk is) the victim of this, because your manager tried to tell me that you are strictly a corporate ambassador, Rothfield said.
Youve been let down by the media department at Melbourne Storm, not me.
Cronk responded:
Theres no doubt the media department overstated their hand, and thats probably why we are here on this issue, he said.
Ill go back to the point where you think its a conflict of interest, that I cant do both. What you think is impossible and what your moral compass is doesnt match up to me, you dont have to put your assertions on me because Im a completely different person, so I actually can operate in a way that is respectful.
I know where my bread is buttered and theres no way in hell Id be sitting in this chair if it wasnt for the impact of Melbourne Storm and Sydney Roosters, so I know exactly the right way to handle things.
Im fully entrenched in Sydney Roosters, Im there to help them win the title. At Storm I have a great relationship with everyone there, but I dont determine wins and losses for Melbourne Storm.
I had organised the Roosters, and the Melbourne Storm contract was then formulated around that because the priority was always Sydney Roosters. Im based here in Sydney, its where the future is for my coaching, and its the way I could have the greatest impact.
Melbourne Storm completely understood that and they still wanted me to be involved in some way.
Cronk continued by going back to one of Rothfields earlier remarks.
You questioned my integrity and my ability to not blur the lines, and I can prove to you I have not blurred the lines once, Cronk said.
This isnt new news, this is completely transparent since the day I retired, and both parties have said today they are completely comfortable.
You (Rothfield) might not be, but the four most important people in this conversation are.
Rothfield clarified his position.
Mine wasnt a question of integrity, it was your ability to juggle two roles with two different clubs. I did not call you a double agent… I dont write the headlines.
Cronk responded.
You can distance yourself as much as you want Buzz, but theres no doubt you had a whack at me and my character and my integrity the last couple of days, Cronk said.
Im protecting my own integrity here.
I understand on a surface level he (Rothfield) has the right to have an opinion, but then dont forecast his opinion, his thoughts over me and my inability to carry both roles respectively.
Just because you couldnt do it doesnt mean someone else cant do it.
NRL 360 co-host Ben Ikin finished by asking are you two OK?.
Cronk said, no, no were not and Rothfield said, it doesnt sound like it.