Dead rubber or not, Cooper Cronk was determined to play for Queensland even if Storm coach Craig Bellamy would have preferred he didn’t.
Craig Bellamy admits he’d prefer it if Cooper Cronk wasn’t putting his body on the line for Queensland on Wednesday night.
The Melbourne coach accepts the lure of State of Origin rugby league is hard to pass up and says he’d never stop a player turning out for their state.
But he confessed on Wednesday the club wasn’t keen for halfback Cronk to play the dead rubber Origin III game at Suncorp Stadium, returning just six weeks after breaking his arm in Origin I.
“I would probably preferred Cooper sit this one out, with the series at two-nil,” Bellamy said.
“Being brutally honest we would’ve preferred that he not play tonight.
“He’s a very very proud Queenslander and he sees every moment he gets to play for Queensland as special so it’s hard to argue against that.
“We’ve never ever stopped anyone from playing a rep game here before.”
Bellamy’s Storm side host third-placed Canterbury at AAMI Park on Saturday night and Cronk hasn’t been named in the side, although Bellamy is keeping his options open.
“We just don’t want to put any pressure on him. Just let him play tonight and see how he pulls up,” Bellamy said.
“He hasn’t played for six weeks so backing up after an Origin game in four days after you haven’t played for six weeks in a pretty tough ask.
“He’s a very special player and a very special competitor.”
The eighth-placed Storm need all their stars on deck as they sit amongst seven teams locked on 20 premiership points from fourth to 10th place on the table.
“On points we’re equal with fourth so it is a strange competition,” Bellamy said.
Canterbury coach Des Hasler used 120kg wrecking ball Tony Williams in the halves with good success in last week’s win over Manly in the absence of Origin duo Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds.
Bellamy says Hasler will have the “T-Rex” option up his sleeve again if NSW Origin Hodkinson starts to tire.
“The size of him sort of catches anyone out,” Bellamy said.
“He’s very mobile. He’s got a great passing game.”