Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Cooper Cronk made a bold claim during his most recent appearance on NRL 360.
The former halfback claimed that Penrith Panthers co-captain Nathan Cleary is already a better player than he was.
It is hard to argue with Cronk as this is being said by the man himself but throughout his career the former Storm and Roosters player took the field in nine Grand Finals winning four premierships.
He also won multiple State of Origin series with Queensland and is a two-time Rugby League World Cup winner with Australia.
For someone like Cronk who achieved so much throughout his career to claim that a 24-year-old with close to a decade still to go in his career is already better than him is a gargantuan statement to say the least.
“I can’t speak on behalf of Joey [Andrew Johns], but absolutely, he is streets ahead of me,” Cronk said.
“He has got the physical skills, the kicking game and passing game, but the maturity and composure, and the temperament in big moments is a huge thing.
“I think the fact that he studies the opposition within an inch of his life, he has got the skills and execution to back it up.
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“But as I said, the ability to galvanise his team and come up with a big play, there is no real ceiling on what Nathan can do.
“But right now, he is one of the best players and trajectory wise he can just about achieve anything.”
Since making his debut for Penrith in 2016 the Panthers have missed just one finals series and are set to take on their local rivals the Parramatta Eels this Sunday in their third straight Grand Final appearance.
Cleary is also a two-time State of Origin winner with New South Wales but is yet to make his debut for Australia.
Although, he is very likely to be selected in Mal Meninga’s squad to participate in this year’s Rugby League World Cup in England.
If Cleary can help Penrith go back-to-back and then win a World Cup with Australia then he will certainly be on track to surpass Cronk’s incredible list of achievements at both club and representative levels.