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Storm star Cronk to make Sydney NRL move

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/04/2017 Warren Barnsley

Test halfback Cooper Cronk has set the scene for a bidding war among Sydney NRL clubs for his signature after announcing he'll leave Melbourne at the end of the season.

The two-time Dally M Medal winner said family reasons were behind the decision to leave the Storm after 14 NRL seasons and he indicated he will move to Sydney to be with his fiancee, television presenter Tara Rushton.

"This will be my last season in Melbourne," 33-year-old Cronk told reporters on Tuesday.

"If it was a football decision, I'd be staying here for a long period of time.

"But for me to finish up here at Melbourne Storm this year is a personal (decision).

"Tara, my fiancee, is based in Sydney, and there's a few things in life that are more important than football, like family, getting married and a future.

"I've been pretty selfish in my approach to my football career and I think it's time I put someone else and something else first."

Cronk, who made his NRL debut in 2004, said he did know where his playing career lay from next season but he felt ready to play for at least another two years.

Canterbury, Parramatta, Wests Tigers and Cronulla loom as likely bidders for Cronk's well-proven services among Sydney's nine clubs.

"I'm being completely honest, I don't know (where I will play)," said Cronk," he said.

"What I do next year is up in the air, but I feel fit enough, I feel mentally strong enough to continue playing."

Cronk has played all of his long and successful career alongside superstar teammates Cameron Smith and Billy Slater, under master coach Craig Bellamy, and he admitted it would be a wrench to break that partnership.

However, he modestly insisted Smith, Slater and Bellamy were the "real Big Three" of Melbourne and the club would always remain successful while they were there.

'"Football is great but I need a balance outside of that and I don't have that here in Melbourne," Cronk explained.

"I get on a plane every other spare minute in Melbourne (to see Rushton) and it's getting harder to get back on that plane to come back so in the best interest of this football club it's the right decision at the right time."

A Queensland and Australian representative, Cronk has played 306 games for the Storm and had a contract option to play for them again next year which he will decline.

He won the premiership with the Storm in 2012 and played in two more grand final winning sides that had their titles stripped for salary cap breaches.

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