How Michael Cronin steered Jack Murchie to the Parramatta Eels

When Parramatta put a contract in front of Jack Murchie, he didn’t sign it until he had spoken to Michael Cronin.

Eels legend Cronin was the coach of the Gerringong Lions when local lad Murchie, then an 18-year-old centre, was called up to the top grade for grand final day seven years ago. The pair combined for a premiership, forming a bond that has resulted in them keeping in touch over the years.

So, when Murchie was sifting through the options on the table, which included offers from the Knights and Titans, he sought Cronin’s counsel.

“It definitely did [sway me], he had a lot of good things to say about the club,” Murchie said.

“I gave him a call before I came to the club to have a chat about what it’s like, getting a few tips off him.

“I have a good relationship with Crow, I see him down the pub there every now and then.

‘I’d love to see him win a comp at Parramatta. I think he’s got a bit to offer.’

“Everyone talks about him at Parramatta, they all love him. The stuff he did back in the ’80s is amazing. I’ve seen highlights of him as well, he’s a gun. He’s a good fella.

“It felt like I had a bit of a family connection as well; my mum’s partner, Russell Ford, played reserve for Parramatta.

“My mum was really keen for me to come here because we have that connection.”

The Eels were desperate to bolster their forward stocks after losing Marata Niukore, Isaiah Papali’i, Oregon Kaufusi, Reed Mahoney and Ray Stone at the end of their 2022 campaign. Murchie, off contract after a three-year Warriors stint, was identified as one of those to fill the void.

Parramatta Eels forward Jack Murchie.Credit:Parramatta Eels

Cronin, one of the most revered figures in Parramatta history, thought it was a good fit and told Murchie as much.

“I said ‘You’d be going to a side that’s gone to a grand final, is well run, into a position where there’s going to be an opening for you’,” Cronin said.

“I can’t see them going backwards and this is the one side where he will be closer to his family as well.

“I’d love to see him win a comp at Parramatta. I think he’s got a bit to offer.

Mick Cronin in his prime in 1986.Credit:NRL Photos

“At the end of last year, he started to look like the player we thought he could be.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how he goes at Parramatta because there’s a lot of improvement in him, that’s my opinion.

“I don’t want to put pressure on him, but I hope for his sake we see that improvement.

“I like him, I reckon he can be an even better player than what he’s been. I think he’s got a bit to offer.”

Murchie made 37 appearances for the Warriors after three cracks at first grade at Canberra. The absence of the suspended Ryan Matterson for the opening rounds of the season has created a further opportunity for Murchie. The 25-year-old will get his first run in the blue-and-gold jersey in Friday night’s final trial game against Newcastle in Gosford.

“That’s the goal, to put in some good performances in the trials and go from there,” Murchie said.

“Matto is a big loss in the middle, but there’s an opportunity there. I just have to put the right foot forward and do my best.”

Murchie, who recently became a father for the first time, said he was potentially interested in pursuing a career as a firefighter once his NRL days are over.

“It seems like a cool job,” he said. “In your downtime, it’s a bit like footy, you get to work out and stuff.

“It would be cool to go into the community and help out.”

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