Roberts breaks Cronin’s long-standing record
Courtney Ward - Kiama Independent
GERRINGONG’S star fullback Joel Roberts has added another accomplishment to his already sparkling resume at the weekend.
The 27-year-old, who has won three first grade Group 7 premierships with the Lions, became the first grade all-time leading point scorer for the competition.
The previous record, held by Roberts’ coach and Gerringong legend Michael Cronin, was 1642, which the fullback eclipsed with his second try against Albion Park-Oak Flats at the weekend.
“It’s cool to break the record of a person, such as Mick, who has had such a big influence on my career,” Roberts said.
“He started coaching me in 2009 and during that time, he has made me the player I am today.
“He’s hard on you but absolutely gets the best out of you every game.”
Heading in to the 2016 season, following his highest point-scoring season in 2015 (260 points – 18 tries and 94 goals), Roberts heard he wasn’t far off Cronin’s long-standing record.
“Someone told me at the end of last year, after the grand final, that I was 30-odd points away but it didn’t even cross my mind before last week’s game,” he said.
“It’s coincidental that I’m breaking my coaches record, who has had such a big influence on my career but you need to give full credit to Mick on what he has achieved in the game of rugby league.”
Cronin still holds the record for most points in a season (270), which is made even more amazing considering tries were worth three points during his playing days.
“If you actually went through all of Mick’s tries and added an extra point on for all his tries, he would probably have another couple 100 points of his sleeve,” Roberts said.
“And if he didn’t play 10 years in the NRL for Parramatta, he’d probably have set a record that would never be broken.
”He actually asked me last week at training how far away I was from breaking the record and I said I didn’t know.
“He joked by saying he would drop me when I got close.”
Roberts, who has played for the Lions since under 8s, will chalk up his 10th year in first grade next season.
“Potentially, I could go on and post a big points total, as I am only 27 but I don’t know how many more years I will be playing,” he said.
“Having been in first grade since 18, it will be 10 full seasons next year but in saying that, records are meant to be broken, so I’m sure someone else will come along and top my total.
“These kind of personal accolades aren’t the reason we play the game, as I would trade all this in for another premiership, as that’s the best feeling in sport.”
Roberts’ influential coach Cronin, who played 216 games for Parramatta, said it couldn’t happen to a more deserving player.
“It’s funny because I didn’t even know there was a top point scorer mark until somebody mentioned it to me recently and apparently it has stood for about 40 years,” Cronin said.
“Once I found that out, I knew he was going to break it.
“In saying that, I’m very happy for him and would like to think there are a lot more points in him yet.
“With him averaging close to 200 a season, he could go on and set a big total.”
Cronin dismissed that he has had a big influence on his career, jokingly saying he hasn’t hurt Roberts’ career.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve helped his career but we do joke that I did save his life, the time I didn’t kill him,” he said.
“We also joked about me dropping him once he came close to breaking my record but my timing seemed to be out by a couple of weeks.
“I hoped no one mentioned it to him though because those last 12 or so points could have been the hardest of his career but luckily he scored a couple of tries.
“Overall, I’m very happy for the club as a whole because there’s a good chance the club is going well if Joel is playing good footy.”