Sydney Roosters star Cooper Cronk is in a race against time to get fit for the NRL grand final, after a late “cheap shot” by the Rabbitohs worsened his chances.
Cronk spent the entire second half of the preliminary final with his eft arm hanging by his side, so in the 67th minute when Tevita Tatola clocked him blatantly late, fans and commentators erupted.
“That’s terrible cheap shot on Cronk,” said Andrew Johns during commentary.
“I can’t imagine the pain he’d be in here, Cronk.
“Passes, relaxes and then ‘BANG’.”
Many of the NRL fans watching the match quickly slammed the decision online, and despite being penalised for the effort, the damage may have already been done.
“He was belted way after he passed the ball,” added Phil Gould.
“This was deliberate…there was only one intention there.”
What a cheap shot on Cronk, awful!! #NRLRoosterSouths
— Rugby League News (@RugbyLeagueNews) September 22, 2018
That's disgusting. Cronk hit deliberately. Hitting an injured player is just cowardice #NRLRoostersSouths
— Matt (@Mattys123) September 22, 2018
Late hit on Cronk, grubbery
— BrisbanePuntingCompany (@BrisbanePuntCo) September 22, 2018
— Josh Needs (@josh_needs) September 22, 2018
Late hit on Cronk no use of the arms.. should miss the gf 🤷🏻♂️🤪 #NRLRoostersSouths
— jimmy (@jimmy87113718) September 22, 2018
Souths enforcer Sam Burgess ran at Cronk on a couple of occasions, but other than that Souths failed to exploit Cronk’s obvious problems.
Robinson praised Cronk’s teammates for getting around him and acting as a bodyguard.
“You saw (Mitchell) Aubusson and the work that he did really tirelessly in and around Cooper,” Robinson said.
“And also Joey Manu, he made some big efforts in and around Cooper. They’re a pretty tight bunch and you could see their work ethic.”
Cronk was forced to make just 11 tackles – and five in the second-half.
South Sydney coach Anthony Seibold bristled at the suggestion his side had erred in not targeting Cronk more.
“We didn’t look to chase him, we looked to put him under pressure when he kicked the footy,” Seibold said.
“That didn’t have any impact on the game.
“You can spend your life targeting Cooper. I don’t understand. He was still making his tackles.”
Cooper Cronk faces a race against the clock
The Sydney Roosters expect Cooper Cronk to be fit for the NRL grand final as he races the clock for his date with destiny against former club Melbourne.
Cronk underwent scans on Saturday night after injuring his shoulder in the Roosters’ gritty 12-4 preliminary final victory over South Sydney.
The 34-year-old maestro appeared at long odds to be fit for next Sunday’s season decider at ANZ Stadium after he spent the entire second half with his left arm hanging by his side.
He copped a shot from Sam Burgess during the first-half before being ironed out by opposite No.7 Adam Reynolds as he took a field goal attempt on the halftime siren.
Cronk looked like a sitting duck in defence as he struggled to raise his arms to tackle.
At one point he was thrown the ball to take a kick for touch and could be seen telling his teammates: “I can’t”.
However Robinson insisted he would be right as he attempts to play in his third straight grand final and win back-to-back titles.
“I know you want information straight away but he’ll go and get scans,” Robinson said.
“I’d say he’d be right to play next week though.
“It wasn’t even discussed (taking him from the field). To be honest I didn’t even ask how he was.
“Cooper knows how he is. He needed to get work done (from the medical staff) there at halftime and he was always going to go back out there. But it looked pretty sore.”