Master coach Craig Bellamy has given unequivocal support for his former NRL premiership-winning halfback Cooper Cronk to continue a dual role with Melbourne and the Sydney Roosters.
Amid claims of a conflict of interest, Cronk is on the books at the Storm and the Roosters – two heavyweights of the NRL.
Cronk played most of his 372-game career under Bellamy, winning two premierships at the Storm before winding up his decorated career with two titles in as many seasons at the Roosters.
Bellamy said Cronk’s standing within the game erased any doubt about suggestions he was acting as an NRL double agent.
“Cooper is not only one of this club’s greats as a player but also whose integrity and professionalism is without question,” he said in a Storm statement.
“In fact, I haven’t met anyone with higher integrity in the game.
“He is both highly passionate and committed to both clubs that he represented with distinction as a player and in the separate roles he now fulfils.”
Melbourne’s general manager of football Frank Ponissi confirmed Cronk had been employed to have a corporate role at the Storm while providing assistance to the team’s halves combination.
“The mentoring role he fulfils here is unstructured and informal in our expectations of his time,” Ponissi said.
“We are extremely comfortable with the arrangement and even more so with the man himself.”
Cronk insists he enjoys more of a hands-on involvement at the Roosters than he does at Melbourne.
“I never talk strategy (at Melbourne), I don’t know their plays, I’m not in the inner sanctum, and I’ve got no understanding of how they want to play against teams,” he told Fox Sport’s NRL360.
“Whereas the Roosters, I’m well entrenched and I have a little bit of a say how they play on weekends.”
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said it had not been a secret to him that Cronk was a mentor for Melbourne halves Jahrome Hughes and Cameron Munster.