Mitchell Moses admits he would’ve felt “a little worried” had Parramatta secured rival halfback Cooper Cronk’s signature, but he can’t blame his NRL club for considering the option.
The Eels dropped out of a three-horse race on Tuesday for Cronk’s services, when chief executive Bernie Gurr told News Corp Australia they would look elsewhere to fill their roster.
That leaves the Sydney Roosters as favourites to sign the Queensland and Kangaroos’ half for the next two years, while Cronulla have previously signalled some interest.
It will also leave Moses to continue his combination with Corey Norman, after the pair had helped to take the Eels this season to their first finals series in eight years.
“He’s a halfback and I’m a halfback – you’d be a little bit worried,” Moses said of the Cronk rumours at Lebanon Rugby League World Cup training.
“I’m not sure. I didn’t know what to think about it. I haven’t really looked into the media as much.
“But being in a similar position, I guess you would (be worried).”
Moses did not discuss the matter with the Eels, and said he had not given it too much thought before Gurr debunked the suggestion.
But if they had pursued the option of signing the two-time Dally M winner, Moses could hardly have blamed them and said he would have used it as a positive for his own game.
“I think every team should be after Cooper Cronk,” he said.
“He’s one of the best halves in the game and, if he came to Parramatta, I would’ve loved to learn off him anyway. He’d be a great asset to any team.”
Gurr confirmed they had assessed Cronk like every other player who comes onto the open market, before deciding he was not a required fit for their roster.
Eels captain Tim Mannah backed his club’s decision to not go after Cronk.
Mannah, a teammate of Moses’ in Lebanon camp, appreciated why every Sydney club would want the 34-year-old to finish his career with them.
But he didn’t believe Parramatta needed to splurge their available salary-cap money in the halves, given they had already found their future in Moses and Norman.
“I’m really happy with the halves we’ve got,” Mannah said.
“It’s fair to say we’ve got the best young halves’ pairing in the competition – they’re definitely our future.
“Bernie coming out today just showed them a lot more confidence that they are the two we want.”
Cronk sparked the latest series of headlines when he told his manager George Mimis last week he was ready to explore options to play on next season in Sydney, having finished up in Melbourne in the Storm’s 2017 premiership triumph.
South Sydney, the Wests Tigers and Penrith have already declared their non-interest, while it’s unlikely St George Illawarra or Canterbury have salary-cap room to chase him.
It’s also believed Manly are not in the hunt for his signature.