Cooper Cronk’s No. 7 successor might be right under Nick Politis’ nose


“I could step into that role if that’s what they wanted,” Keary said. “If they find a good No. 7 or we have one here, I’m happy to stay at No. 6. I enjoy that role. We have Latrell Mitchell and Lachie Lam if they want to go down that path [as No. 6s].

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“I feel with the apprenticeship I’ve done and the things I’ve learned from Cooper, I could step into that role. I did it before at Souths and I struggled a bit. I’ll put my hand up and say I didn’t enjoy it. I was much younger then.

“The times I’ve had to do it here [at the Roosters] it’s been better, and it helps having that bloke [Cronk] telling you what to do during the week. I think it would be an option, but I also don’t have a preference at this stage.”

Kyle Flanagan has been one player linked to the Roosters, while Shaun Johnson revealed he had spoken to the Bondi club about moving there in 2020 before he joined Cronulla.

By sticking with Keary, it would allow the Roosters to divert their funds to keeping gun centres Mitchell and Joey Manu, who are locked up until the end of 2020 but become fair game for rivals in November.

Keary has always enjoyed running the ball and knows there’s more responsibility as halfback.

Robinson expects Cronk and Jake Friend to return for Friday’s clash against Parramatta but will reserve his judgment until seeing them train Monday and Tuesday.

“Being able to see how Cooper does it, how he controls games, I speak to him before games and try to take a bit from him,” Keary said. “I also try to leave a bit of the way I like to play and attack, and if I can mix it all together, that’s what I felt I did in the first half [against Manly].”

Robinson revealed Mitchell had trained at five-eighth all summer as a genuine back-up option in the event of an injury.

Mentor: Cooper Cronk’s value is showing off the field with his influence on Keary.Credit:AAP

It was only a knee injury to Brett Morris, a suspected “low-strain MCL”, which forced Robinson to play debutant Lam at the start of the second half against the Sea Eagles and bump Mitchell back to the centres.

As for Keary as a viable long-term No. 7 option, Robinson said: “I don’t know about the actual position, but I know we are pretty dominant in the nine, six and one we’ve got.

“Cooper might play on for five more years and be like ‘Beaver’ Menzies and keep going. But Luke will be a dominant player of the future, and when that time comes and whoever comes in, Luke and ‘Teddy’ [James Tedesco] will still have the major roles there as well.”

Keary said the Brookvale surface was “pretty heavy” but had no issues with it. “I actually like it here, I came here as a kid, and it’s not Manly’s fault. It’s a public field. they’ve got people walking on it all the time, so it’s not the greatest situation for them,” Keary said.

Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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