Mitchell Moses, who has previously been linked with the Roosters, is the highest-profile playmaker still on the market for next year. But he’s been in advanced negotiations to remain at the Eels and is tipped to follow the re-signings of coach Brad Arthur and captain Clint Gutherson.
The Roosters already have Lachlan Lam and Brock Lamb on their books and registered interest in Shaun Johnson before he was released from the Warriors a year early to join the Sharks.
Robinson has shown no hesitation using Lam, in particular, in the top grade after handing the 21-year-old his first NRL start on Anzac Day.
The Roosters are prepared to adapt around whatever position they think Keary will be of most value to the team as they mull whether to move Mitchell, dubbed the world’s most destructive centre, for the next phase of his career.
They could also monitor the situation at the Sharks where Kyle Flanagan has shone in limited chances in the top grade, but will have to bide his time behind Chad Townsend and Johnson.
«I think we have played games without Cooper [in which] Keary has grown so much as a player,» Roosters co-captain Jake Friend said. «I would be more than happy for Keary to steer us around. I believe in him and I have seen him do it.
«It is a void – it is Cooper Cronk. But he has done as much as he could to get players around him to be ready for that. I think [Keary] will be ready for it.»
He’s the greatest team player I’ve ever seen.
A typically humble and eloquent Cronk used the SCG Members Long Bar to confirm the end of his career is nigh, less than 12 months after he played in the Roosters’ grand final triumph over his old club Melbourne with a broken shoulder blade.
«The last game last year embodied him,» Robinson said.
«That was a snapshot of the way he’s played his whole career. The selflessness, the dedication, the uncomfortable moments and the emotional disconnection from what the task was and under the most extreme circumstances … but it was still about a team. He played a role on the field that allowed everybody else to play their role.
«That embodied his whole career in that one week. He’s the greatest team player I’ve ever seen.»
Almost as if he didn’t matter, Cronk said his job at the Storm was a simple receiving the ball from one future Immortal in Cameron Smith and passing it to another in Billy Slater. Robinson patiently waited for his turn and then set the record straight.
The entire Roosters squad squeezed into the historic setting for Cronk’s announcement, which came only after he rung to inform members of the Storm’s senior playing group and coach Craig Bellamy on Sunday night.
«As long as you’ve got will you can teach skill,» Cronk said.
«From my days starting out I was more than happy to be an interchange player and play a number of roles for that football team. I didn’t have the best kick, pass or running game, but I did have a good work ethic.
«And I think that’s what Craig [Bellamy] saw. It was a sink-or-swim season for me in 2006 and I must have had my floaties on because I swum OK and I’m still doing it.
«If anyone thought I worked hard for the past 15 years, come and watch me train from Monday to Friday for the next 20 weeks. I guarantee I will be doing everything I possibly can to make some guys share in moments, milestones and achievements the pleasure I’ve had.»
Cronk’s career has included a Golden Boot, two Dally M medals, a Clive Churchill Medal and four Dally M Halfback of the Year gongs.
He won five grand finals across his career with both the Storm and Roosters, but only bordered on becoming emotional on Monday when he discussed the influence of his wife Tara and son Lennox on his life.
Asked whether he considered hanging up the boots after last year’s grand final, Cronk said: «Never.
«I’m a man of my word and when I signed a two-year contract, that’s my job. It was hard, There’s no doubt the first steps in pre-season were probably the hardest of my time. It knocked me around, that recovery. I got back on the horse.»
Adam Pengilly is a Sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.