Storm rookie takes early No.7 claim
LIFE after Cooper Cronk at NRL premiers Melbourne Storm hasn't changed too much, according to assistant Jason Ryles.
However, ex-Test prop Ryles admits the Storm will soon feel the classy halfback's absence despite Brodie Croft placing an early claim on Cronk's vacant No.7 jersey.
Ryles joked that Sydney Roosters recruit Cronk hadn't been missed at Storm pre- season training so far - probably because the playmaker isn't usually back from representative duty by now anyway.
But Ryles believed 20-year-old Croft had already showed he could fill the void left by 323-game Storm No.7 Cronk.
"It's pretty normal at the moment because Cooper, Smithy (captain Cameron Smith) and Bill (Slater) aren't normally back until after Christmas (from rep duty)," Ryles told Sky Sports Radio.
"Not too much has changed at the minute but I am sure it is going to.
"His (Cronk's) experience is very hard to replace, and in a key position.
"It's a big challenge for the next guy who comes in but we have done a lot of work in that regard."
Ryles believed Croft - who played four NRL games last year - had edged out fellow young half Ryley Jacks in the pre-season to date in the race to replace Cronk.
"I think so but it is still very early in the piece," he said.
Either way Ryles believed Melbourne's old guard of Smith and Slater would ensure whoever joined their world class spine this season would be ready.
"Brodie Croft has been doing a really good job and so has Ryley Jacks - there are a lot of players training hard vying for that (halfback) position," he said.
"When Cam and Billy come back over the next couple of weeks we will see how the combinations look.
"It won't be until we play live footy until we see the replacement for Cooper.
"But if you are a young half you are learning in the best environment next to Bill and Cameron so whoever gets that opportunity - whether it is Brodie or whoever - it's a great platform for their career learning from two of the greats."