Suncorp Stadium has seen some of Cronk’s greatest moments as a Maroon, arguably none more so than the field goal in Origin III that won Queensland the 2012 Origin series. Winning the game 21-20 in a series decider, Cronk’s 40-metre kick in the final minutes of the game earned a significant place in Origin history.
A Dally M double
In October 2013, Cronk won his first Dally M medal, edging fellow Queensland and Test star Johnathan Thurston, Daly Cherry-Evans and Cronulla’s Todd Carney by two points. In 2016, Cronk collected the medal a second time as well as claiming his first Golden Boot Award. Cronk has also taken out the Dally M Halfback of the Year award five times.
Melbourne’s long road back
Two years after the salary cap scandal that stripped the Storm of the 2007 and 2009 titles, Cronk was hungry to get a premiership win that wasn’t up for debate. The Storm managed to stay focused during a drama-filled clash with Canterbury in the 2012 decider, which included the infamous ear bite by James Graham on Billy Slater. The cool Cronk laid on two first-half tries to steer them to victory.
Medal of honour
Having led the Maroons to a seventh consecutive series win in 2012 before taking out the premiership for the Storm, Cronk rounded out his year with the Clive Churchill Medal around his neck. Cronk said it was «an honour» to receive the medal on top of the win, which coach Craig Bellamy credited to Cronk’s control.
The big three sign off in style
In a last hurrah for the «big three», Cameron Smith, Slater and Cronk took to the field one last time together in the 2017 grand final against North Queensland. The trio helped defeat the Cowboys 34-6, sending Cronk to Sydney with a second premiership to his name. Cronk singled out his ex-Melbourne teammates in his retirement announcement on Monday, saying he would be «forever grateful for what those two guys did for me on and off the field».
On top of the world
On December 2, 2017, Cronk played his 38th Test for Australia, leading the defending champions to a win against England 6-0 in the World Cup final in Brisbane. An hour after the game, Cronk dropped the bombshell that he would retire from representative football to focus on his Sydney move, a decision he said was «fitting» after the World Cup win.
Wounded bird flies
After moving north and linking up with the Roosters, Cronk made an explosive debut with his new club by playing all 26 games in the 2018 season. He then defied expectations by being named in the side an hour before the the grand final clash against Melbourne, playing out the match with a broken scapula. The Roosters claimed the premiership 21-6, making Cronk the first player to snag back-to-back NRL premierships with two different clubs.
Sarah is a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald.