Cronk: Roosters must own mistakes
Cooper Cronk comes face-to-face with the man he replaced at the Sydney Roosters when the reigning premiers take on Mitchell Pearce's Newcastle Knights this Saturday at the SCG.
But that is not the motivation driving Cronk this week.
Instead, the man who has played in eight grand finals and won five has identified exactly where the Roosters need to lift as a team if they are to go on and challenge for back-to-back premierships.
Cronk was rested in the 38-12 round 11 hammering the Roosters copped in Newcastle and since then the Roosters have only managed two wins from six games dating back to the start of the State of Origin period.
But while missing key personnel during Origin could be seen as an excuse from the outside, as Cronk explained it doesn't wash within.
"You put on a blue, red and white jersey and you are expected to do a job and we haven't done that consistently enough throughout the season," Cronk said in the wake of Sunday's shock loss to North Queensland.
And Cronk backed Trent Robinson post-match spray that the Roosters' defensive lapses that led to the Cowboys' two tries go to the heart of the real issue.
After 17 rounds the Roosters are now fourth defensively overall in the NRL, conceding an average of 17.3 points per game and 2.8 tries.
But this time last year they were ranked first, conceding just 14.2 points per game and 2.1 tries.
While it doesn't seem like a significant difference, it can be all the difference.
Cronk was not hiding from the fact he missed two field goal attempts that could have secured the win against the Cowboys.
"I will take all the blame for the missed field goals and the clunky setups, that's my job," Cronk said.
But as Robinson explained, defensively is where the Roosters must improve.
The Roosters were again without James Tedesco and Boyd Cordner against the Cowboys who will be back to take on the Knights, while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves faces a two-match ban for his dangerous contact charge on Josh McGuire but is pleading not guilty and will front the judiciary on Tuesday night.
But Cronk said regardless of who is playing, overall attitude is the key.
"When you are playing football and competing all the little things are what makes a good football team," he said.
"Not the State of Origin players or the ins and outs.
"That helps. But if you want to have a foundation that holds up under pressure it is the teams that do all the little things really well and then the cream rises to the top off the back of that.
"Look, everyone is going to say we have got a good team and we have got the ability and we know that.
"But there is only 17 guys that can actually turn that into reality and that is our job."
Cronk has only lined up against Pearce once previously while wearing the Tricolours with the Roosters claiming a 38-8 win in round three last year.
But the Knights have come a long way since with Pearce leading the charge, despite them dropping their last two matches against the Warriors and Bulldogs.
This match could answer a lot of questions about the hopes of both teams with only eight games of the regular season remaining.