Dane Eldridge – EXCLUSIVE: Cooper Cronk’s Origin Camp Diary

Cooper Cronk is usually a padlocked clam when it comes to media exposure, but this week he gave us an insight in to how his finely-programmed computer brain operates when it comes to kicking critical field goals in the popular games of footy and life.

Now in a League Freak exclusive, his cut-price firewall has given us exclusive backstage access to the days leading in to the first State of Origin match of 2013.

Here are the ramblings from the mind of a truly unique footballer who doesn’t follow his own shadow, or change the password on his online diary often enough.

Return to camp after a lazy weekend of Cooper time. I really unwound by putting my feet up. Right up.

Spent my time at a high altitude facility on Mt Kosciusko subjecting myself to a voluntary training program of torturous intensity, and am now feeling recharged and totally ready to sink my teeth in to a week of preparation and answering questions about Ben Te’o.

After a light ball-work session in the afternoon, it’s time to unwind with the boys by heading to the hotel function room to watch a movie together.

Even 12 months after my wonderful 41-metre field goal, I am still completely free of my own expectation, and Sam Thaiday’s for that matter. This is lucky for him as his choice of ‘Short Circuit 2’ for the evening’s viewing was an absolute disaster that deserved serious condemnation.

With each cheesy android gag, I felt my body extend in to it’s natural form- a clenched thumping fist and a lower leg twitching to roundhouse- but luckily my emotive mastery kicked in before his arse was.

Pooped after two hours of listening to Trevor Gillmeister talk about mechanical science, I retire to bed to rest my chakras, ready for a big day tomorrow of studying the opposition with our coach Michael Hagan.

Breakfast time, and this means one thing: a smorgasbord of the finest tropical fruit knocked up by Mal. He’s great at putting on a vitamin-laden spread, which is handy because I’m not actually sure what else he does in camp all week.

Unfortunately, in a desperate attempt to prove his self-worth, he’s also had a crack at knocking up a mixed grill and succeeded in producing nothing but a hotplate of smouldering char.

As a chef, Mal should really stick to…. whatever it is he does professionally. We might need to give him a different job next year, because the small fire he’s sparked in the village today proves his character on the Weber is made of hay.

After a session of opposition analysis where we decided on the best way to bait Greg Bird, it’s time for a gym session. Like most days, I’m feeling in good rhythm as I settle in to my routine. I’m throwing iron around like it’s going out of fashion, and my head is clear and totally devoid of noise. Until Darius Boyd wants to spot me.

Fair dinkum, for someone with a voicebox that ices over at the sight of a camera, he sure can bang on. Wayne this, Wayne that, he has a bottomless keg of fatherly anecdotes on tap.

He eventually shuts up after I give him a good belting over the head with my copy of ‘The Wisdom of Forgiveness’, and I get back to doing what I do best: nurturing my sinews.
Mal heads off to do a knock’n’run at Ricky Stuart’s house, so he gives us the afternoon to ourselves. While most of the other blokes spend the time swapping Tazos, I slip in to a saffron robe and read my book about transpersonal psychology. The guy who wrote it is wonderfully intelligent, insightful and inspiring, much like Craig Bellamy, except with the ability to repress violent outbursts of fury.

Although the book contains fairly complex and challenging subject matter, it’s not a patch on one of Coach Hagan’s detailed fifth tackle plays. Trying to get one of those chaotic formulas to synchronise is like trying to pronounce Matt Gillett’s name properly.

In one particular entanglement, Corey Parker hit a decoy line at good pace and ended up on his keister in the third row of the stands. I think Hages is getting ahead of himself; maybe he should give the failed grill-master a turn with the whistle?

With Mal still searching for enough dog poop to fill a bag for Ricky’s porch, he decides to give us the night off, so I head off to the casino with Billy Slater and David Shillington for a quiet night of coin burning. I managed to win $25k on blackjack, $10k on roulette and on the way out, score the lucky door prize that was a new Toyota and a holiday to Europe. I didn’t feel good or bad about myself afterwards, just in a state of grace.

After a session of stretching, I’m encouraged by the coaching staff to chat to the team about the daily routines that assist with the upkeep of my outstanding spiritual health. Naturally, in a habitat dominated by masculine beefcakery, I only gain cagey interest from a couple of fellow trippers in Justin Hodges and Brent Tate.

After we all woof down enough carbohydrates to feed a small continent, the three of us return to my room to meditate. Cameron Smith tries to join in, but as the process involves the burning of incense, he is banned entry to the room due to the highly dangerous levels of combustible man-shrubbery he carries on his torso.

All goes well with the enlightenment until Hodgo begins showing the side effects of excess carbs intake.

In an instant, the silence and purity in the room is pierced as evil spirits escape his body. It was a sequence I felt strangely like I had imagined in my head already, months if not years before.

Actually, I didn’t imagine it- Hodgo farts all the time.

After some sprints, it’s off to do some kicking training with that scallywag Daly Cherry-Evans. Working with the young fella is grouse. His bubbly persona is great company to be in.

I often wonder though, the bloke is so cheery all the time. Perhaps ‘practising a kick on the same patch of grass’ might mean something totally different to him?

Either way, he smokes his first ten attempts at field goal, and we retire to listen to some Enya. It’s game day tomorrow and I can’t think of any better way to focus on the job at hand: than with a calming dose of synth and panpipes.

You can follow Dane Eldridge on Twitter by clicking here: https://twitter.com/playup_roosters

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