Roosters' Cronk praises spiritual Raiders
Sydney Roosters playmaker Cooper Cronk describes Canberra's brand of football as "spiritual" under Ricky Stuart this NRL season and has praised them for reviving the green machine of old.
The reigning premiers have been earmarked as competition favourites all year and will on Sunday provide an acid test for the Raiders, who have defied expectation to fight their way into the top four.
Cronk is a conscientious student of the game and grew up admiring the Raiders of the late 1980s and 1990s when the likes of Stuart, Mal Meninga, Laurie Daley, Steve Walters, Brad Clyde and Brett Mullins took them to three titles.
And he sees some of that same ethos filter through to this year's squad.
"They've been super consistent all year, not dropped too many games consecutively, they've played a pretty spiritual game of football in terms of team unity, going after every game they play," Cronk said.
"Ricky Stuart is a passionate guy and he has his troops moving in the same direction.
"Growing up as a kid, the Raiders in the late 80s, how dominant they were, the winning feeling of watching Mal, Ricky and Laurie do their thing.
"As a rugby league fan, Canberra is back on the map, back on top of the table, fans are coming through, you've got the viking clap. Anything that's good for rugby league is good for Canberra."
Sunday's blockbuster at GIO Stadium will also give Roosters coach Trent Robinson a gauge of where his team is at just five weeks out from the finals as they attempt to win back-to-back premierships.
No side has won consecutive grand finals in a united competition since Brisbane in 1992-93.
Cronk has been to eight grand finals over his career and won five.
He has won successive grand finals - with Melbourne in 2017 and the Sydney Roosters in 2018 - but never with the same club.
"There's a reason it hasn't been done - it's pretty hard," Cronk said.
"I've tried a few times and failed. I don't have the answer.
"I tell you what, I'm just going to turn up, compete and see how that goes."
Roosters winger Brett Morris said the Raiders had been underestimated by many sides this year but they wouldn't fall into the same trap.
"I think some clubs have, we certainly won't be," Morris said.
"We know we've got our hands full this weekend, they've got strike power across the park in every position and they're playing really good footy.
"A lot of their games have been won off the back of defence but you look at their (46-12 win over the Warriors), the scoreline really blew out.
"They're definitely a threat in this competition."
© AAP 2019