Looking around a jubilant Queensland dressing room, Cooper Cronk admitted it would be hard to say goodbye to State of Origin after the Maroons’ 22-6 series-clinching win in Origin III.
Halfback Cronk, 33, is yet to decide his future after announcing he will leave NRL club Melbourne and join his fiancee in Sydney in 2018.
But the lure of Origin may yet persuade Cronk to run around again next year, judging by the 22-game Queensland playmaker’s beaming smile in the Maroons sheds on Wednesday night.
The XXXX flowed as family and friends mingled with Queensland greats like Wally Lewis and the Maroons toasted their 11th series win in 12 years.
“I’ve got some thinking to do, there’s no doubt about that,” Cronk said.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do but I’ll tell you, it’s hard to give up moments like that.
“You’re a kid, you watch Wally Lewis, Alfie Langer, Mal Meninga, Arthur Beetson play and you just want to be a part of it.
“And then to have moments like that, it’s pretty special.”
No doubt Cronk contemplated his own future when five-eighth Johnathan Thurston received an emotional pre-game tribute on Wednesday night after his 37-game Origin career was ended by a shoulder injury suffered in Queensland’s game two win in Sydney.
He said it was good to share the unlikely series win with veteran skipper Cameron Smith and another who may have played his last Origin, fullback Billy Slater.
Cronk still wouldn’t give a deadline on his own future despite the inspiring Origin win.
“It’s why you play the game. It’s why you get up and have ice baths late at night when you don’t really want to, to have moments like that for Johnathan Thurston’s last game,” Cronk said.
“It’s good to share it with Cameron and Billy. We’ve probably got less moments in front of us.
“John (Thurston) made his decision based on his personal circumstances and I’ll just do the same.”
If it was Cronk’s last hurrah, he left something to remember him by.
He provided one of Origin III’s highlights with a pin point perfect cross field kick that gifted hat-trick winger Valentine Holmes his second try in the 26th minute.