No end in sight for Slater, Cronk and Smith
MICHAEL Morgan has sent a chilling warning to NSW State of Origin fans, predicting Queensland greats Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith are set to continue tormenting the Blues for years to come.
Cronk turns 34 next month, while June 18 birthday boys Smith and Slater are both 35 in 2018.
But they're showing no signs of slowing down, the all-conquering trio on track to ice an incredible season with World Cup glory with the Kangaroos. World Cup success would complete a memorable hat-trick after Cronk, Smith and Slater helped the Maroons to an 11th Origin series triumph in 12 years before piloting Melbourne to a dominant NRL premiership.
According to Morgan, the insatiable superstars aren't even close to being done. When Cronk announced in March he was leaving the Storm at the end of 2017 to join his fiancee in Sydney, the end of an era seemed nigh.
It certainly is at club level.
But now that the dual Dally M Medallist and seven-time grand finalist has opted to extend his career with a two-year stint at the Sydney Roosters, Morgan suspects his Queensland and Australian teammate will continue his representative career.
The record-setting Smith - already the most durable player in rugby league history with more games for club and state than anyone else - is fast closing in on Darren Lockyer's 59 Tests for Australia.
Slater is taking it one year at a time after missing two seasons following a shoulder reconstruction.
But in a worry for the Blues, Morgan doesn't expect Slater, Cronk or Smith to hang up their boots any time soon.
"Looking from my point of view, it looks like they could keep going for at least another two years each," Morgan told NRL 360.
"What ends up happening, I'm not too sure.
"But watching the way they train, the way they prepare and still the way they're playing, I think they'd easily have another couple of years in them." The only consolation for the Blues is Morgan's injured North Queensland Cowboys, Origin and Test teammate Johnathan Thurston has called time on his rep career.
For now anyway.