Stolen moments: Crocker's signing on hold after break-in
Free agent ... Michael Crocker talks to the media at Redfern Oval. Crocker is expected to extend his contract with South Sydney for a further year. Photo: Getty Images
MICHAEL CROCKER'S manager says the Rabbitohs' co-captain is so close to extending his contract at Redfern that he might have re-signed this week had his home not been burgled five days ago.
The 32-year-old enters tomorrow night's preliminary final against Canterbury-Bankstown at ANZ Stadium a free agent for next season but in the kind of form that justifies South Sydney's desire to retain him.
The club tabled a one-year offer to Crocker, a former Queensland and Australian back-rower and grand final winner at Melbourne, but it has remained untouched for seven weeks.
His manager, Andrew Purcell, indicated Crocker may have agreed to a fifth season at Souths this week had he not been busy picking up the pieces from a break-in and robbery at his Maroubra apartment last Saturday night.
The thieves mainly stole electronic equipment, while he was playing in Souths' semi-final win over Canberra the same evening.
''We've got to the point where we're probably better off just holding off now, with what happened at the start of the week with the burglary. We're very close, we just need to get him in to talk about it at the moment,'' Purcell said. ''He spent a couple of days trying to tidy that up and by Wednesday-Thursday it's not something you want to be discussing.
''It wasn't so much that the house was in disarray it was more that the locks, and insurance and all that sort of stuff. It takes up a fair bit of time and when you're training full-time you've just got to give it a bit of space, that's all.''
Crocker's agent says they are comfortable with a one-year extension. ''We'll definitely re-visit it early in the week,'' Purcell said.
It was not the ideal lead into a grand final qualifier but Crocker is keen to move on with so much at stake tomorrow. ''It was obviously frustrating and disappointing at the start but we've had a lot of help from the community and I'm just happy now to put that behind me,'' he said.
''We've updated all our security stuff and the fact the community is behind us and everyone has got our backs helps us sleep safe at night.''
Crocker has played down the importance of senior players with grand final experience such as himself, Greg Inglis and Roy Asotasi, to the preparation of finals tyros such as halfback Adam Reynolds, saying the Dally M Rookie of the Year had proven he was up to the occasion.
It was a view endorsed by Souths coach Michael Maguire, who threw his weight behind the No.7 in his first season at Redfern despite hardly knowing who he was when he arrived.
''A lot of people had question marks but I guess I didn't know a lot about Adam myself, so I didn't really have a question mark. I just had to come back from overseas and work with what we had,'' Maguire said.
''He impressed me from day one. He was a quiet kid but now he's really turned himself into a really dominant halfback and he's shown that right through the competition.''
Maguire says the Rabbitohs must be ready for the competition's outstanding player this year, Bulldogs fullback Ben Barba, to have some impact tomorrow night.
''He will come into the game at some stage, you've just got to make sure you're working together to nullify what he throws at you,'' he said.
''If you kick the ball down to him on the full he's going to bring it back at speed and he's going to have support there. Everyone knows what the players are capably of doing now it's a matter of making sure you concentrate during those periods. It's the same thing with Greg Inglis receiving the ball down the other end.''