OUTGOING Melbourne superstar Cooper Cronk has set a deadline by which he wants to have his future sorted, while dropping a big hint on his intentions beyond 2017.
The veteran halfback will walk away from the Storm once the season ends, and is yet to confirm whether he will sign with a rival NRL club or hang up the boots.
He has committed to playing for Australia at the World Cup later in the year, which will be his rugby league swansong if he decides to retire.
The rumour mill has linked him to Sydney clubs the Sharks and Rabbitohs, and even the Knights, and the game holds its breath to learn whether he will play on or not.
And now we have a clearer idea of when we will know of his intentions.
Cronk told SEN radio in Melbourne on Friday he plans to have the decision made before the World Cup kicks off at the end of October.
"I'm not really stressed about it, I'm not fussed what I do next," Cronk said.
"I'll get through this, Melbourne Storm is in a decent position, had a successful Origin series this year, there's a World Cup that starts about three or four weeks after the NRL grand final.
"Hopefully I'll be part of that and then somewhere in between, before the World Cup, I'll make a decision.
"If you want to play football you're a long time retired, but I've got to make that decision some time soon.
"But I'm not losing sleep over it."
Cronk had an option to play for Melbourne in 2018 but announced earlier this year he would leave the club in order to move north to Sydney to live with fiancee Tara Rushton.
The news sparked frenzy in rugby league circles and it's continued for most of the season.
Melbourne has already confirmed Cronk will return to the club at some stage to join the coaching staff, most likely as a specialist halves coach.
But whether that's in 2018 or not will depend on if he is aligned to another NRL club in a playing capacity.
As much as the hysteria around Cronk's future has often been a distraction for fans, the man himself says he is trying not to think beyond the finals series.
"It's been funny, I haven't really been walking around the locker room or around the administration office thinking these are my last days," he said.
"I've been very focused on what I need to do."
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