After the Roosters' grand final heist was finally revealed as a hidden scapula fracture to halfback Cooper Cronk, their coach Trent Robinson has lauded Cronk's effort to win a premiership with the injury as the toughest he's ever seen.
Cronk soldiered on for around 60 minutes with the injury last week against the Rabbitohs to book his new club a grand final berth.
After a week of ducks and drakes and Cronk not taking part in any training, he was finally confirmed as a starter in the 17-man team list but was a virtual passenger on the field, finishing with nine tackles, no runs, just 18 touches of the ball and four kicks while guiding his team around the park, boosting them with his talk and playing as arguably the most effective decoy in rugby league history.
"It's legend status in our game. It's not an understatement," Robinson said in the post-match press conference when reflecting on the 21-6 grand final triumph.
"I've seen guys get injured in games but I haven't seen a guy fracture his scapula, complete break through the scapula and then play 60 minutes with it then have to deal with it all week, have four different lots of injections through the week - I've never seen a guy as mentally strong as Cooper Cronk.
Cronk explains his decision to play
"What this guy had to do this week to get there was incredible."
Robinson said after a conversation with his playmaker on Friday morning, Cronk was out but a last-ditch medical session and some extra treatment and some extra local anaesthetic later on Friday turned things around.
"Friday afternoon he went and tried another style of treatment and he rang me on the way home a bit giddy - as giddy as Cooper gets - and said 'I think I'll be right to play'," he said.
Robinson said images from the Saturday captain's revealing Cronk as a bystander were not subterfuge; rather Cronk would have been too sore to play on Sunday if he'd had a run on Saturday.
With how late in the week Cronk was still in doubt, Robinson said there was a very clear plan as to what would happen if Cronk couldn't play or was forced from the field within the game.
"We had two different plans," Robinson said.
"We were ready for if it didn't work out, we were ready to jump into that as well. Everybody was ready."
The plan itself sounds complicated but Robinson had no doubt the team was capable of pulling it off.
"Plan B was the double bluff. Mitchell Aubusson was going to defend three-in on the right, Isaac Liu was going to play right edge back row but Mitchell Aubusson was going to play like Cooper did on short sides and Luke [Keary] was going to run the game with Teddy and our centres were going to move as an extra pivot from left to right, so ourcentres were going to take a fair bit of load and run extra plays. Latrell was going to kick on the left," Robinson said.