Cronk retirement gives Chook $1m war chest

Cooper Cronk's retirement is expected to help the Roosters retain Latrell Mitchell (pic).
Cooper Cronk's retirement is expected to help the Roosters retain Latrell Mitchell (pic).

Cooper Cronk's retirement has unlocked $1 million war chest for the Sydney Roosters as they jostle to retain superstar Latrell Mitchell.

The champion halfback on Monday announced that the second year of his Roosters contract would be his last and he would hang up his boots at the end of 2019.

Having repaid the faith shown in him by Roosters coach Trent Robinson and chairman Nick Politis - who took a big gamble by luring him to the club at the end of 2017 and effectively forcing out Mitchell Pearce - he will be remembered by everyone at Bondi Junction as one of the Tri-Colours' most important signings.

Cronk was on a reported $1 million a year and those funds will become vital as Mitchell prepares to come off contract at the end of 2020 - meaning opposition clubs can offer him a deal from November 1 this year.

It was reported that the Roosters were increasingly worried that Mitchell - who is understood to be on $450,000 this year and $550,000 next year - could be poached by cashed-up arch-rivals South Sydney.

But Cronk's exit gives the Roosters the ammunition they need to retain the strike centre.

"You don't fill the void of Cooper Cronk," Robinson said.

"You take the lessons from Cooper and you put it into the squad that will play next year.

"They won't finish at the end of this year and it will continue on. That's our role to remember and to take those roles into next year and further."

Cronk leaves the club with their premiership window wide open - in no small part because of the evolution of Luke Keary over the last eight months and he is likely to move into Cronk's No.7 jersey next year.

Who partners Keary in the halves remains to be seen - Mitchell has filled in at five-eighth regularly while Robinson this year blooded 21-year-old Lachlan Lam.

Australian Associated Press