Cronk is Storm's big hope with new
long-term deal


Melbourne Storm appears to have settled on rising star Cooper Cronk as its long-term replacement for departed star halfback Matt Orford.

The 22-year-old former utility has signed a new contract until the end of the 2009 NRL season. He's set to start in halfback position in this week's first round match against the New Zealand Warriors in Auckland. Cronk displayed red-hot form in pre-season trials to make his case as the replacement for Orford who moved to Manly in the off-season.

Lock Dallas Johnson has also signed up for another two years with the Melbourne club after sounding out a possible move over the off-season.