Melbourne Storm backrower Kevin Proctor says the return of Test halfback Cooper Cronk is behind his team’s improved performances.
The return of master playmaker Cooper Cronk is behind Melbourne Storm’s surge back into NRL top four contention, according to backrower Kevin Proctor.
The Storm moved up into sixth on the competition ladder after their impressive 22-point win over Brisbane last round thanks to a star performance from Cronk.
The 30-year-old Test halfback was at the peak of his powers with a hand in four Storm tries, including one for himself.
While he was out with a broken arm Melbourne, won just two from five games and their premiership aspirations were on shaky ground, but they now look more like the Storm of old with a series of strong showings.
Ahead of their clash with Wests Tigers next Monday night in Campbelltown, Proctor said Cronk was the difference in their side.
“I think Cooper makes a massive difference because he came back fresh from injury,” Proctor said.
“He’s a leader and he takes control of the game for us and the other halves that filled in weren’t really doing that because he’s pretty big shoes to fill.”
The Storm blitzed the Broncos early with statistics revealing they had 84 per cent of possession in the opening 20 minutes.
Proctor couldn’t recall playing in a match when they dominated so completely so early and described it as a “dream start”.
He rated it as their most complete showing and felt it boded well for the business end of the season.
“I think it was our best defensive and attacking performance in the one game.
“The boys stepped up attacking wise and we did really well in defence.
“Hopefully we can stay consistent toward the end of the year and build some momentum going into the back end.”
The Tigers, who are sitting 11th, are in turmoil with their coach Mick Potter under pressure and skipper Robbie Farah forced to reject reports he wants out.
Proctor said he hadn’t read much about the Tigers, and was happy to focus on the Storm.
“They’re still a good team and really dangerous attacking team so we have to get our defence right or else they will steamroll us.”