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Talking with Kyle Flanagan about stepping into Cooper Cronks's boots

Filling the shoes of the great Cooper Cronk is an unenviable task - just ask Brodie Croft during his time in Melbourne - and yet that is the job that has been handed to a 21-year-old halfback in Kyle Flanagan.

Highly rated as he progressed through the Cronulla Sharks' ranks, Flanagan was finally handed his NRL debut by his dad and coach Shane late in the 2018 season.

He went on to play a handful of NRL games for Cronulla in 2019 before electing to take up a two-year contract with the back-to-back premiers; the Roosters choosing him as Cronk's heir apparent.

The Chooks managed to keep Cronk on board post-retirement, however, operating in a mentor role for the inexperienced Flanagan.

"Obviously in junior grades you always listen to your coach, but I've never had a mentor," Flanagan told the Talking with TK podcast.

"It's been massive for me - just some of the stuff I've learned. It's the first time I've had a halfback like Cooper Cronk coaching me.

"Having him there for me is obviously a dream... I've idolised him as a kid."

In typical Cooper Cronk fashion, the legendary halfback has instilled a no-nonsense mentality in Flanagan with a focus on the basics while he finds his footing his first grade.

"He tries to keep it simple with me... he's got the mentality for me to build my game brick by brick and not worry about try assists or the fancy stuff.

"He always talks to me about the simple things - that's my kicking, that's my tackling.

"We're always talking about the simple footy to build my game off and hopefully that's a good platform for me going forward," Flanagan explained.

"That structured footy is something you can rely on in big games."

As a young half attempting to overcome the pressure of years of junior praise, there is no better club to join than the Roosters.

With NSW captain Boyd Cordner, livewire five-eighth Luke Keary, the ageless Morris twins and the great James Tedesco at his disposal, to name a few, Flanagan has been set up for a long and illustrious career.

But make no mistake, he's out to prove he belongs in this historic team of champions - and that started well before the 2020 season began in the Roosters' rookie boot camp across the ditch.

"That's a nightmare, one of those things," he laughed. "I wouldn't recommend it!"

"I did the Kokoda track a couple years back but the New Zealand trip doesn't compare.

"(For) 36 hours you're just constantly walking, doing army drills, climbing over fences... carrying logs, that sort of stuff.

"I remember we were sleeping for two hours, they came and woke us up and started banging the bells (yelling) 'get up, get up, we're going!'

"To put (myself) in that situation was massive for me to get to know the boys and really to prove myself... and show them that I'm a tough kid and I won't settle for anything less."

Already with three tries, four try assists and his side laying its opponents to waste, there is simply no telling just how high Flanagan can fly.

What is known, is that Cronk and the Roosters will play their part in his story.