Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

NRL: How Cooper Cronk's move could affect Kieran Foran

Cooper Cronk's surprise move today could have implications for the Warriors's attempt to retain Kieran Foran in 2018.

Quality halves are like gold dust in the NRL and when one of them changes clubs - especially a franchise player like Cronk - there are always ripple effects.

Yesterday Cronk announced that he would be leaving the Storm at the end of this season, to live with his partner Tara Rushton in Sydney.

He's undecided on his playing future, but the Kangaroos half, still near the peak of his powers, will surely pick up a juicy contract somewhere.

For the Warriors there are a couple of implications. Firstly, the Storm now need an experienced half next season and beyond. They may target Foran - who they have been linked with in previous years - to play alongside Cameron Smith and Billy Slater in their spine.

Conversely, if the Storm prise another marquee half away from a Sydney club, that franchise will have extra cap space to throw at a free agent like Foran.

It will be an ongoing story over the next few months, as Foran continues to remind powerbrokers in the NRL of his pedigree.

Foran is part of an unchanged 21-man squad for the clash with the Parramatta Eels at Mount Smart on Sunday (4pm), with coach Stephen Kearney staying loyal to the team that closed out the 28-22 victory over the Titans last week.

It means Blake Ayshford - who had a mixed game at centre, with some solid runs blighted by some poor defensive work - is again listed on the wing, with David Fusitua down to start inside him.

"Blake did a wonderful job at short notice against the Dragons and apart from the missed tackle on the weekend I thought he was really good for us in the second half," Kearney told Radio Sport. "I'm not going to chop his head off because he made one error. I know he's experienced and he can get a job done for us."

It underlines that Tui Lolohea remains out of favour, and means that Fusitua is likely to be on the flank again.

Bodene Thompson has been named in the second row but will need to prove his fitness this week, after leaving the field just before halftime against the Titans with an achilles problem.

"We'll give [Bodene] as much time as possible this week," confirmed Kearney.

Charlie Gubb is again listed to start, though James Gavet was a late switch as Jacob Lillyman's front row partner in the XIII last Sunday.

The extended bench comprises the same eight players selected last week.

After making 19 errors in the loss to the Dragons, the Warriors cut their error rate to only five last Sunday.

They made 1783 metres with 10 players topping 100 - Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (209), Jacob Lillyman (169), Sam Lisone (147), Ken Maumalo (129), Foran (123), Issac Luke (119), Ryan Hoffman (112), James Gavet (105), Shaun Johnson (104) and David Fusitu'a (101).

The Warriors and the Eels come into the match with identical 2-3 win-loss records, with the Sydney team currently on a three game losing streak.

The Eels hold a 20-16 advantage overall in contests between the two sides and claimed victory in the final round last year. However, the Warriors have won five of the last six encounters against Parramatta at Mt Smart.

- NZ Herald

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