'Bring it on': Cronk welcomes great expectations

Expectation is Cooper Cronk's constant companion.

But playing in seven NRL finals and five State of Origin series deciders means Cronk doesn't fear the burden others may put on him.

"I like to think there's not a moment in the game I'm not prepared for," Cronk told NRL.com.

So as he prepares himself and his teammates for Saturday night's Allianz Stadium preliminary final against South Sydney, Cronk knows everyone is talking about how the Roosters bought him to Bondi to do just this – finals football.

"Pressure only comes in big moments. If you don't feel pressure, then you're probably not part of a big moment," Cronk said.

"In sport, you want to be among the big occasions – as many as possible.

"For me, it's just auto-pilot. I kick into what I've been doing in training. I don't get to the 76th minute of a game and do something I've not done on the field before.

"I've always had confidence in the fact that I train at an intense level, so when it [a moment] does come in a game situation, no matter the situation, I'm ready for it."

And don't think for a moment that because he lives on Sydney's north shore and not in the eastern suburbs, that he's immune from Roosters fans patting him on the back, hoping he'll win them another premiership.

He got the same in Melbourne whenever Storm edged their way to a grand final, and anywhere in Brisbane and Queensland when the Maroons were doing their Origin thing.

"The question is 'Would you prefer that, or not prefer it?" Cronk said.

"Of course you'd prefer it because it means you're doing something worthwhile – something that's significant to lots of people other than yourself.

"As I always say, no matter if it's a compliment or criticism, I hear it in the same breath – it doesn't inspire me to run harder, or tackle harder. I do that on my own and with my teammates.

"For me, if it's a World Cup final, Origin decider, or NRL grand final, that expectation I can't see it, touch it or feel it but I know it's there.

"If you make it out to be an issue, then it will. I'm very much aware of it. I won't sidestep or talk myself out of it.

"But it doesn't stop me from doing what I need to do. Was I like that when I was 20? Probably not.
But the way you get to handle these is the way you train and prepare."

Cronk is a veteran of nine preliminary finals with Storm. He's about to record his 10th, but first with the Roosters. So he's an ideal candidate to ask whether the week off hinders or helps a team.

"I'm a fan if you win, and not a fan if you lose," he said.

"It is funny because it all depends on the result of the prelim. If you get it right, then you'd a say the week off is a benefit.

"It comes down to getting the perfect balance between refreshing the mind and recovering the body, but also keeping the edge with intense training to make sure you're ready.

"You put trust in the performance staff too. I've always found that if you get that perfect balance, you always play well."