Waratahs and ARU rule out making play for Cooper Cronk

Cooper Cronk in action against the Warriors. Photosport
Cooper Cronk in action against the Warriors. Photosport

The NSW Waratahs and Australian Rugby Union have ruled out making a play for Sydney-bound rugby league superstar Cooper Cronk.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is convinced Cronk could make it in rugby and backed the Waratahs' reported pursuit of the dual Dally M Medallist.

However, the Waratahs on Thursday insisted they had no interest in picking up the the 33-year-old Queensland and Australian Test halfback when he finishes up with his NRL club Melbourne at season's end.

"The NSW Rugby Union has not been approached by anyone on behalf of Cooper Cronk nor have we approached him," NSWRU chief Andrew Hore told AAP.

"In any decision of this nature there are many variables to consider and, at this time, our key priority is to invest in programs that develop rugby union players through our own pathways."

Cronk has pledged his future to his Sydney-based fiancee, but is yet to decide whether to retire or seek a new club and says he won't do so for some time.

Sydney NRL club opportunities for expensive playmakers are fast dwindling after recent signing announcements.

Retirement looks increasingly likely for Cronk, especially if the table-topping Storm win the NRL premiership, Queensland claim a 10th State of Origin series in 11 years and the Kangaroos win the World Cup.

Especially so after the Waratahs shot down talk he could be lured to Moore Park to join former Storm, Maroons and Kangaroos teammate Israel Folau and his one-time Melbourne understudy Mack Mason.

Cheika, who coached the Waratahs to their only Super Rugby title in 2014 before taking up his Wallabies post, says Cronk would be a great addition to rugby - but not at the ARU's expense.

"He's an Aussie, an Australian player who's ultra-qualified in rugby league and he came through the ranks playing league after playing rugby back in school days," Cheika said.

"It'd be interesting to see him back playing and I'd have no doubt whatsoever that he'd make a success of it because he's that type of player.

"If the Tahs are interested and he's an Australian guy who wants to come and play there, I say good on 'em, get in to it.

"Are the Australian Rugby Union going to get involved in it? No, that's a deal between those guys to work out."

Storm coach Craig Bellamy says Cronk has offered no clues as to where his playing future lay beyond 2017, or if he even has one at all.

"He's pretty good at keeping things close to his chest," Bellamy said on Thursday.

"He's very focused at the moment on doing his job for the Storm, obviously Australia last week and, knowing 'Coops', he's probably starting to get himself up for Origin as well. "Whatever he does he will probably put it on the backburner until after Origin.

"I think he'd be a success in rugby union but whether he wants to play and go down that line, I don't know."

- AAP

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