Cooper Cronk has shaken the tectonic plates of rugby league by making the decision to retire from representative football following Australia’s Rugby League World Cup triumph.
Cronk informed Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga at the start of the week before telling his teammates on Friday night and announcing it to the world following their 6-0 win over England in the final.
“There’s probably two reasons for it. One, I’ve had one hell of a run. I never thought any of this was even possibly in my wildest dreams,” Cronk said after Saturday’s match.
“A kid growing up 20 minutes from here on south side of Brisbane. I never knew, thought or hoped that I’d play this amount of rep football.
I think it’s time for someone else to grab a couple of those memories and those moments because I’ve had my fair share. I’ve had a great run.”
Cronk said the second reason was personal.
“Rep football takes a lot of your time, a lot of dedication, a lot of time away. I’ve had some big decisions made in my personal life, professional life in the last 12 months,” he said.
“I think this is a really good time to know that it’s an end point.
“That game tonight was Test match football at its best.
“It’s fitting to finish the 2017 World Cup here at Suncorp with that game as my last game.”
Cronk, who in April was granted a release from the final year of his Melbourne Storm contract for personal reasons, put off retirement to take up a two-year offer from the Sydney Roosters.
However, it was unclear whether he was going to commit to another representative season that included another State of Origin series for Queensland.
Incumbent Queensland and Kangaroos five-eighth Michael Morgan will now need a new halves partner from a list including Ben Hunt, Anthony Milford and Cameron Munster.
Australia squad member James Maloney could also be an option at international level.
“You can look at is as a bit of a slack in the rope,” Cronk said.
“But I guarantee, when you’ve got Kevin Walters in charge, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, the guys have been at the forefront of Queensland Rugby League for a long time, if there is any at all it’ll be picked up quite easily.
“The young guys that’ll come in deserve their chance. They deserve the moments I’ve had, the opportunity to build those memory banks that I’ve had in all the jerseys.”