Cooper Cronk: 'Because while football is very important, life is way more important', Retirement speech - 2017

3 October 2017, Melbourne, Australia

On Craig Bellamy

Craig sets an agenda or an example of what it takes to be successful but he also has this side of humility that makes you a better person and some guys have come to this club that have been really good players, way better than some of the other ones that have come through the door. “Some of the lunatics get out the door real quick because they just don’t fit and that’s because of Craig.

His humility from where he’s come from and what he has is something that I’ve learnt. The two lessons that I’ve learnt from Craig is that hard work pays off and humility is a trait that you want to have.

Craig thank you, you’re the biggest influence on my rugby league career. I thank you for the person you are and I wish you all the very best with your ever growing family with a couple of grandkids now and that brings a smile to my face, knowing that you’re very happy with your life and where it’s at and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

On Cmeron Smith

To Cameron and Bill — I tell you what we balled our eyes out the other day when we presented each other jerseys, it is emotional once you develop relationships over a long period of time and we all met in 2001.

Cameron used to drive me in his hotted up HG Holden car when I didn’t know the difference between a windscreen wiper and a mud flap but he would absolutely fang the thing on the Gateway Motorway and I remember one day it was teeming down with rain and he aquaplaned it at about 160km/h and I was holding on for dear life. So thanks for almost killing me ...

Thank you for doing the things we did.

On Billy Slater

We all know Billy’s story about driving down from Innisfail but we all don’t know the story that he used to drive a maroon Magna with roof racks — and who has surf in Innisfail, there is no surfboards.

He had moo cow seatcovers and I had a Nissan Pintara and we used to go down to the Gold Coast and race each other down there. Let’s just say I’d beat him hands down all the time.

We met each other in 2001 at Brisbane Norths and it’s now 2017 and what’s been done is, I would never have thought the moments we had back in 2001 that we’d all be standing here today.

The thing that I’m most proud of is not that we’ve won some competitions or some individual medals or represented our states and our country.

I’m proud that I’ve been a part of both of them getting married, both of them having kids, both of them having a life that they can be tremendously proud of. Not only in the things that they’ve achieved but the people they are and the example they are for other people in this room and everyone at Melbourne Storm.

On partner Tara

People used to get up here and thank their wives and their girlfriends for their influence on them as people and the way they play.

I used to sit there when I was 19 and think, they don’t help you tackle or run. So why are you thanking them?

But after meeting Tara a few years back I understand why you say thank you now. Because while football is very important, life is way more important.

So she’s not here tonight but Melbourne Storm is the second best thing that’s ever happened to me, Tara’s number one and I thank you very much everything you’ve ever done for me.