Cooper Cronk at centre of brutal fallout amid Roosters' NRL season from hell

The Sydney Roosters are said to be reviewing the champion halfback's coaching role at the club.

Cooper Cronk alongside Joey Manu.
Cooper Cronk is reportedly on the outer at the Sydney Roosters. Image: Getty

The Sydney Roosters' disappointing NRL season could reportedly cost Cooper Cronk his coaching job at the club. According to a number of reports, the Roosters' halves consultant is under the microscope amid the club's inevitable finals miss.

The powerhouse club are normally premiership contenders year-in-year-out, but are currently languishing in 14th place on the ladder with just five games remaining in the regular season. Despite boasting a host of representative players like James Tedesco, Joey Manu, Victor Radley, Lindsay Collins and Joseph Suaalii, the Roosters have managed just 8 wins and 11 losses so far this season.

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Speaking on '100% Footy' this week, leading journalist Danny Weidler reported that Cronk's one-day-a-week role at the club has come under scrutiny and is far from safe for next year. "He works with the likes of Sam Walker, Luke Keary and Joey Manu, and there's some chance they'll re-evaluate his role," Weidler said.

"Not everyone in the club is entirely happy with Cronk's role – I guess the proof is in the pudding. We haven't seen Sam Walker fire a lot this year – he was dumped at one point. We didn't see Joey Manu succeed either. How much of that is Cooper Cronk's fault I don't know.

"But … they're examining that situation as well. It doesn't mean he's gone from the club, but it's one I guess we can watch with interest."

Speaking on NRL 360 on Tuesday night, journo David Riccio explained: “Cooper is there as a halves consultant and given their current predicament, given their current attack, Cooper’s role at the club is being reviewed by the Roosters. It’s a one-day-a-week job working with the halves."

James Tedesco and Cooper Cronk.
James Tedesco talks with Cooper Cronk during a Sydney Roosters training session. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Former Roosters player Braith Anasta said: “Let’s be honest, if it’s under review, they are in trouble. If it’s out there that their jobs are under review, and I’ve heard the same about (assistant) Matt King, it’s probably close to the mark, right?

“If you are under review with the way they are going and it’s been made public through certain avenues - I know them well and they are great guys and great coaches and I’m mates with both of them - but the reality is there is something happening there. There’s some panic there within the ranks, there’s some change coming and these guys could be under pressure.”

Roosters coach Trent Robinson responded to the reports on Wednesday, saying all of his coaches would remain at the club in 2024. He said: “Any other reports are a long list of hearsay.”

Cooper Cronk and Tara Rushton.
Cooper Cronk moved from Melbourne to Sydney in 2018 to be closer to wife Tara Rushton. (Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage)

Cronk found himself at the centre of a storm earlier this year in regards to the club's decision to dump Walker to reserve grade. The halfback was axed from the Roosters' team in round eight, with his family subsequently laying the blame at the feet of Cronk and his coaching style.

Walker suffered a knee injury while playing in reserve grade and hasn't been back since. The club has used Joey Manu in the halves alongside Luke Keary, while Sandon Smith has been playing halfback for the last few weeks.

The news that Cronk could be on the outer at the Roosters left NRL fans stunned. The champion halfback won four premierships at the Melbourne Storm (two of which were later stripped) before joining the Roosters and leading them to back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019. Cronk made the decision to move to Sydney from Melbourne so he could be closer to wife Tara Rushton, who works as a sport presenter and TV host.

Roosters want Jake Friend to remain as assistant coach

Weidler also reported that the Roosters are trying to convince Jake Friend to stay on as assistant coach in a full-time capacity. Friend has been filling the role since the departure of Jason Ryles.

But according to Phil Gould, the Roosters should look elsewhere. "I have this feeling that if people are coaching in the NRL, they have to have coached their own team at some stage coming through the system," he said.

"I'm not so sure the players retiring to become assistant coaches actually learn to be coaches and can help the head coach as much as they would like. Head coaches, some rely very heavily on their staff. Some are a little bit more autonomous and do enough of the work themselves.

"I just don't know that going straight out of playing into an assistant coach role (under) the head coach of a club is actually going to develop you as a coach or give you an understanding of what coaching really is. A lot of that is happening, and then other clubs are appointing those assistant coaches as head coaches."

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