Cooper Cronk is more than ready for retirement after he helped Sydney Roosters to an unprecedented back-to-back title in the NRL.
The Roosters became the first team to win successive premierships in the NRL era with a tightly contested 14-8 victory over Canberra Raiders at ANZ Stadium.
James Tedesco crossed late on for the Roosters after the referee Ben Cummins changed his decision from awarding Canberra a fresh set of tackles, instead giving Sydney the handover as Cronk – who was controversially sent to the sin bin early in the second half – went out on a winning note.
Cronk, 35, was overwhelmed with emotion in the aftermath of Sunday’s triumph, but insisted he has no doubts about hanging up his boots.
“There was so much emotion around the game this week, but the club did a really good job of keeping it pretty small,” Cronk told the Nine Network.
“I don’t really know what to say except thank you to everyone involved in rugby league.
“From being a young kid, I’ve been blessed to be able to watch this game and it’s a humbling experience having been able to live out a dream and have some success at the end of it. But I’m ready for retirement – I’ve had enough!
“I’m the result of some very good individuals at some very good clubs. I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some guys that changed the way rugby league was played and I just jumped on the back of that and had some fun along the way.
“It’s been one hell of a journey, one hell of a ride and I’m just glad it’s over!”
— NRL (@NRL) October 6, 2019
Cronk, appearing in his ninth Grand Final, was harshly cautioned when he was adjudged to have tackled Josh Papalii without the ball.
The officials checked for a penalty try, though the video official deemed a penalty – and yellow card for Cronk – was sufficient.
“It’s not ideal. I’m not here to criticise the referees but I didn’t think it was a sin-binning offence,” Cronk said.
“It took heart and soul for this club to defend for that time and then score points. This club cops a lot of criticism but it’s got one big heart, a hell of a lot of soul and a lot of good people involved in it.”
Match-winner Tedesco echoed Cronk’s thoughts, while hailing his retiring team-mate.
“It’s a pretty surreal feeling. Everything was against us, Cooper getting sent to the bin in his last game, we were under the pump that whole second half,” Tedesco said.
“We’ve got a winning culture, the boys never give up and we fought for the whole 80. [Cronk] is an unbelievable player, an unbelievable bloke.
“We spoke during the week about how much he has done for every one of us as players. To send him out a winner is an awesome feeling.”