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Cronk excited to play alongside Maloney

AAP logoAAP 27/10/2016 Ian McCullough

For the first time since 2010 Cooper Cronk will be partnered in the halves for Australia with a New South Welshman with James Maloney to make his Kangaroos debut against Scotland in the Four Nations opener on Friday (6am Saturday AEDT).

The 30-year-old Cronulla five-eighth becomes the oldest player since Luke Ricketson to be selected in the green and gold for the first time, with coach Mal Meninga holding Johnathan Thurston back until next week's clash with New Zealand.

It caps off a magnificent year for Maloney, who helped the Sharks win their maiden premiership last month, and rekindles a partnership with Cronk that first came together in 2009 at Melbourne.

That day the pair combined to lead the Storm to a 16-14 win over Penrith but the following week after losing to the Wests Tigers Craig Bellamy signed Brett Finch.

Maloney played just twice more off the bench for the Storm before moving on to the Warriors and the Sydney Roosters.

"I'm not that close to Jimmy to know why he's moved around so much, but from 2009 to now he is a very different character," Cronk told AAP.

"He's done a tremendous job, and I think the thing people may not realise is that Mal just doesn't hand out Australia jerseys for the sake of it.

"Jimmy is one of the five debutants he's picked and they all thoroughly deserve it."

Todd Carney was the last NSW half to pull on an Australian jumper with Cronk and Thurston having a mortgage on the No.6 and No.7 jerseys for almost a decade.

Cronk will make his 30th international appearance at the Lightstream Stadium, home of the Tim Sheens-coached Hull KR, and although he turns 33 next month, he's not contemplating representative retirement just yet.

"I've never really fathomed or thought about when my end point is with the Australian team," he said.

"I suppose that is a good sign. I still really enjoy playing and the responsibility that comes with representing Australia and I love being tested at the highest level.

"As long as that is around I don't see my position changing, providing I am still playing good football."

Cronk, who re-signed with Melbourne earlier this year admitted it wasn't a straightforward decision to make, with his partner, Fox Sports presenter Tara Rushton, based in Sydney.

"Football-wise it was a pretty easy call," he said.

"Outside of football there are a few other things that come into play and needed to be taken into serious consideration.

"But as for now, Melbourne is my home and will be the next period of time."

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