I'll retire for my mate Clint MELBOURNE star Michael Crocker has performed the ultimate act of grand final mateship - offering to retire a season early to ensure off-contract back-row partner Clint Newton remains in the NRL. Crocker fronted Storm coach Craig Bellamy earlier this month and demanded Newton be kept at all costs. Then, in an incredible gesture of selflessness, Crocker said he would personally pay the price by forgoing the final season of his current deal. In order to prevent the salary cap from forcing Newton to England after Sunday's grand final, the 27-year-old firebrand is prepared to quit the game after 2008. "Just thinking about it is very humbling - I get a bit emotional," Newton said. "It's a massive thing for Michael to do. I would never expect anyone to do something like that, and he did it off his own bat - the club didn't put any pressure on him. "I didn't even know until after the game against Parramatta on Sunday night. I was blown away." Newton, 26, is poised to cap a remarkable season with a grand final appearance on Sunday - just four months after being unwanted at Newcastle. Until the Crocker offer, Newton looked to have little hope of remaining at Melbourne because the club can only afford to offer him around $70,000 next season. But by standing aside the following year, Crocker would free up almost $200,000 - thereby enabling the Storm to compensate Newton with a far higher salary in 2009. After transferring from the Knights in acrimonious circumstances, Newton has thrived in the Victorian capital and is immensely popular among his new teammates. The son of Aussie golfing great Jack Newton last night compared Crocker's gesture to something you see in the movies. Storm insiders say serious knee and shoulder injuries over the past two seasons have convinced Crocker his battered frame is now a "year-to-year proposition". Crocker already requires a shoulder reconstruction after Sunday night's decider that will leave him sidelined until midway through next year. He privately believes retaining Newton is crucial to the club's forward strength, given props Ben Cross (signed with Newcastle) and Garrett Crossman (negotiating with Hull KR) are both likely to be playing elsewhere in 2008. Only loose acquaintances before Newton joined Storm, the pair have developed into close mates over the past four months. Not only do they partner each other in weight training, but Crocker and his girlfriend Sally have played a vital role in Newton's swift adjustment to Bleak City by cooking for him on an almost weekly basis. They first spoke about Crocker's offer over one such dinner on Monday night. "Something like this is a perfect example of why I'm so happy in Melbourne," Newton said. "It's the type of mateship that has brought the club a long way, and will hopefully serve us well in the grand final on Sunday." Newton is considering a formal offer from one UK Super League club - understood to be Hull KR - that would see him earn $150,000-a-season more than if he were to remain in Melbourne. Storm coach Bellamy last night said the club desperately wanted to keep the former Knight. He confirmed that he had spoken with Crocker, but declined to reveal details of a private conversation.