Brodie Croft in action for the Storm during the Qualifying Final between the Melbourne Storm and the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Week 1 of the NRL Finals Series at AAMI Park in Melbourne, Friday, September 7, 2018. (AAP Image/David Crosling) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Brodie Croft in action for the Storm during the Qualifying Final between the Melbourne Storm and the South Sydney Rabbitohs in Week 1 of the NRL Finals Series at AAMI Park in Melbourne, Friday, September 7, 2018. (AAP Image/David Crosling) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Croft more than just a Cronk clone

BRODIE Croft has tightened his grip on the coveted Melbourne Storm halfback jersey after a promising finals debut against South Sydney.

The young gun showed the calmness and poise demanded of post-season action, helping the Storm secure a thrilling one-point win over the ­Bunnies on Friday night.

Storm premiership winner Curtis Scott, who lives in a share house with Croft, Brandon Smith and Scott Drinkwater, has witnessed first-hand what Croft has been through this season, having been ­anointed a "Cooper Cronk clone" only to be axed after the first five rounds.

"There's no question it's been tough on him," Scott said.

"Everyone was referring to him as the Cooper Cronk clone; it's pretty daunting for the kid.

"He handled it well going back (to reserve grade). He wasn't kicking stones, he just kept knocking on the door and talking to Bellsa (coach Craig Bellamy) on what he needed to do to get back in."

 

Croft was rewarded in the back half of the season, playing back-to-back games in Rounds 17-18 and Rounds 23-24.

He probably would have played the last home-and-away game, too, had it not been for an innocuous knee injury suffered during a social game of lawn bowls.

"I honestly couldn't believe it. Lawn bowls, you've got to be kidding me," Scott said.

"I was like, 'mate, my old man plays lawn bowls … he's almost 50 and he never comes home with an injury."

Croft brushed off the bowls injury to play an key role in the win over the Bunnies.

After being involved in Melbourne's first try - scored by Scott - Croft burst into space on the stroke of halftime and put a sweetly-timed kick into space for Suliasi Vunivalu to score his second try in nine minutes.

Croft finished with 77 run metres, two assists, two tackle busts and two line breaks to put a gap on halfback hopefuls Jahrome Hughes and Ryley Jacks.

"He might just have been trying to overplay his hand a little bit during the start of the season," Scott said of Croft's form reversal.

"He was probably a bit frantic out on the field … he's a bit calmer out on the field and not getting rattled as he was at the start of the year."

Halves partner Cameron Munster also hailed Croft's commitment.

"He's got some talent, he just needs to keep working on those little things we talk about each week and he'll and up being one of the greats of the game," Munster said.