As Queensland and Australia’s greatest generation begins to contemplate walking off into the sunset, Cooper Cronk insists he’ll be around for years to come.
Maroons coach Kevin Walters and his Australian counterpart Mal Meninga face an unprecedented changing of the guard over the next two years with Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith and Greg Inglis weighing up retirement plans.
Their departures will leave a massive hole in both their state and national sides however it’s a situation eased by the co-Dally M winner’s declaration he wasn’t contemplating hanging up the boots anytime soon.
“I suppose you’re referring to the grey hairs on my head,” Cronk said as he entered Australian camp ahead of the Four Nations.
“Time is of the essence and I’m coming closer towards the end. But I’ll be honest with you, I’ve never really considered representative retirement and stepping away.
“When you start thinking those things it’s not too far away. I’m not too worried about my future.”
The 32-year-old is contracted to the Storm until the 2018 but has put on expiry date on his playing days.
Next year shapes as Johnathan Thurston’s last year of representative football before his 2018 swansong season in which he hopes to devote all of his efforts to North Queensland.
Queensland and Australian skipper Smith is expected to retire in 2018, though hasn’t ruled out playing on until 2019.
While Inglis has set to retirement date but has previously stated a desire to stand down from rep football to concentrate on club duties.
Thurston has a hectic 14 months ahead starting with the Four Nations in England, the Auckland Nines in early February, the NRL, his farewell Origin campaign and next year’s World Cup in Australia.
The 33-year-old said it was getting harder to manage his body but was determined to play as much football as possible in the time he had left.
“Especially at the start of the year you need to put in the hours and the workload to get the body right to handle the rigours of rugby league,” he said.
“The Nines, the first weekend of February, it’ll be about getting my body right to handle that kind of workload. That’s a challenging thing for me and it’s an exciting time.”