Come and get me! Defiant Cronk puts body on line
COOPER Cronk has dared defenders to take him on as opposition sides continue to target the Sydney Roosters halfback with late hits.
New Zealand utility Jazz Tevaga was sinbinned and then charged for an illegal shot on Cronk during last Sunday's clash at the SCG. It eventually forced the playmaker from the field.
Tevaga's hit is only one of many Cronk has had to wear this year but the three-time premiership-winning half is refusing to back down and has declared he'll play even deeper into the line.
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"It is what it is. Whether someone hits you hard or soft it's never going to stop me from doing my job for the footy team, there's nothing in it as far as I'm concerned. The match officials and review committee will take care of it," Cronk said.
"If I'm in the exact same position, I'll do it the exact same way and I'll probably go a metre further in the line because that's what my teammates need to me to do."
In April, Brisbane enforcer Tevita Pangai Jnr flattened Cronk with an off-the-ball hit that league Immortal Andrew Johns described as a "dead-set cheap shot".
Pangai Jnr copped a two-week ban for the shot.
Cronk also said opposition coaches were wasting their time in placing cross-hairs on him because he won't stop putting his body on the line in the pursuit of back-to-back titles.
"You'll have to ask the opposition coaches what their tip sheet is... I've got no idea (if they target me). But the reason they do it is so I don't create space for James Tedesco, Luke Keary and the likes. What do I have to do? I have to lean in and get it done, it's as simple as that. I'm not worried about it," he said.
Sunday's late hit sent a scare through the Roosters camp as Cronk grimaced with pain, clutching the same left shoulder which almost ruled him out of the 2018 grand final.
Cronk helped orchestrate a premiership win for the Bondi club with a broken scapula suffered during last year's preliminary final against South Sydney.
Despite not being able to finish the Warriors game on the weekend Cronk confirmed he wasn't feeling any ill-effects from Tevaga's hit in the back.
"I'm fine, it's nothing," Cronk said.
Match officials have recently been accused of over policing the NRL's edict to stamp out late contact on playmakers.
In round 21, Canterbury's Chris Smith and Wests Tigers' Luke Garner were binned in the same game for shots ruled to have been late.
Pangai Jnr was hit with a five-match ban for a tackle on Penrith five-eighth James Maloney following last Friday's game at Suncorp Stadium.
But Cronk backed the NRL and match review committee for the way dangerous contact on smaller players has been handled in 2019.
"They have a thousand things to do in a split second of every game. They're humans, like me I get a couple of passes, kicks and tackles wrong but overall they do a tremendous job and I have faith, whether it's referees during the game or match review panel, they'll get the job done," he said.