Trent Robinson responds amid bombshell claims about Cooper Cronk's exit

The Roosters have witnessed several assistants pursue opportunities elsewhere, with Trent Robinson adamant the exodus is over.

Trent Robinson and Cooper Cronk.
Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has slammed rumours halves coach Cooper Cronk could be set to leave the club. Pictures: Getty Images

Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson has firmly hit back at rumours of a potential coaching shake-up amid the club's disappointing 2023 NRL campaign. With the Roosters sitting a lowly 14th on the ladder, rumours have emerged that Cooper Cronk could be in line to move on from the club, after a string of highly rated assistants have left the club in pursuit of opportunities elsewhere.

The likes of Adam O'Brien (Newcastle), and Craig Fitzgibbon (Cronulla) have departed since 2020, while the club also allowed Jason Ryles to move on this year with the highly-rated assistant looming as a potential successor to Craig Bellamy at the Melbourne Storm. With talk of Cronk potentially moving on next season, Robinson declared that every member of the coaching staff at present would be with the Roosters next season.

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Cronk has been working as a halves specialist for the club, with Robinson adamant the former Melbourne Storm ace, who ended his career with the Roosters, would be working with the club in 2023. He slammed rumours of his departure, labelling them 'hearsay' and adding that 'the mail is completely off' on such suggestions.

"Any other reports are just a long list of hearsay that's been going on," Robinson said. "I don't even know where they're from ... All of my staff that are here this year will be here next year. That's pretty clear."

Robinson was somewhat more coy when it came to another couple of matters, principally the future of former club captain Jake Friend. The premiership-winning skipper has also been an assistant at the club, taking on more responsibility since the departure of Ryles.

However he has also been juggling his coaching duties with his plumbing business, with Robinson confirming Friend's ongoing future at the club was ultimately going to be a matter for him to decide. It comes as further rumours regarding former Gold Coast Titans coach Justin Holbrook potentially joining the club following his controversial ousting.

"Jake doesn't even know if he wants to be an assistant or not," Robinson said. "He's trying to work out whether it's home for him or not.

"I don't even know if he'll go back to part time next year, let alone continue on. So, keep them coming and keep the discussion going but we're pretty clear on the inside what we're doing."

Roosters readying for crunch NRL clash against Manly

Set to face Manly on Thursday, who can probably afford to drop one or maybe even two of their remaining five matches and still make the finals, the 13th-placed Roosters know they have no wriggle room. Languishing four points adrift of eighth-placed North Queensland with a dreadful -110 points differential, the Roosters can't afford any slip-ups against Manly, the Dolphins, Parramatta, the Tigers and South Sydney.

"We know the equation," Robinson said. "It's not much use looking too much further down the track but we also know the importance of tomorrow night.

"It's not much use hiding from that. We're pretty clear on what we need to do but the way that you play decides the result."

Trent Robinson is pictured at a Sydney Roosters training session.
Trent Robinson says the future of Jake Friend as an assistant at the club remains to be seen, with the former premiership captain juggling his business alongside coaching duties. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Many pundits' title favourites pre-season, the Roosters have been the major disappointments of 2023. Injuries haven't helped, but Robinson will have most of his big guns on deck at the Sydney Cricket Ground and says it's time for his side to walk the walk.

"We know what we've got in the team and what we're capable of and it's pretty simple: we've got to go out there and do it," he said. Barely a month after being squeezed out of Bondi Junction, Matt Lodge is set to line up against his former Roosters teammates despite Sea Eagles coach Anthony Seibold revealing he hadn't been able to train this week.

After making his Manly debut against the Dragons last Saturday night, Lodge has been laid low with illness that has swept through the Eagles ranks. Seibold, though, said Manly fans need not stress and that the prop and others affected would all play on Thursday.

"Talking to him on the phone, he'll be right to go," Seibold said. "It's a great opportunity whenever you come up against your old team."

With AAP

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