Croker hopes Raiders return can herald contemporary begin

Jarrod Croker has battled by means of two injury-affected seasons with the Raiders. (Dave Hunt/AAP PHOTOS)

By Alex Mitchell in Canberra

JARROD Croker admits he has been by means of some robust instances throughout his prolonged absences from soccer however hopes his return can assist Canberra rediscover their NRL mojo.

Raiders captain Croker performed solely 12 video games in 2021 and only one in 2022 as he battled a string of knee and shoulder complaints, additionally toiling away in NSW Cup in an try to show he nonetheless belonged on the Raiders.

All of the exhausting work was made value it in early April because the 32-year-old helped elevate the Raiders to an upset win in opposition to beforehand unbeaten Brisbane.

His return impressed his teammates and drew plaudits from friends together with Canterbury champion Willie Mason, who urged most gamers in Croker’s place would have retired quite than battle their approach again.

“It was robust instances,” Croker mentioned.

“There’s been a few shoulder reconstructions in there in addition to backs and knees and all kinds of issues.

“It will get robust however on the finish of the day I used to be coming to work and hanging out with my mates. My job was to get my physique proper.

“I mentioned on the again finish of final 12 months I simply wished to get by means of the pre-season… and play some footy early on.”

Coach Ricky Stuart revealed after the Broncos win that quite a lot of senior gamers had come to him following the earlier week’s humiliating 53-12 loss to Penrith and requested him to choose Croker.

The centre was glad he may repay his teammates’ loyalty with a stable displaying in his 293rd sport.

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“It’s good to have their backing,” Croker mentioned. “We’re a really tight group right here, particularly the senior boys have all been right here a really very long time.

“We love taking part in with one another, so it’s good to know these guys had religion in me.

“It’s bought to go behind us now. It’s about consistency and stringing a pair collectively.”

Now the emotion of Croker’s return has subsided, Canberra’s activity is obvious – to constantly produce the form of type that allowed them to upset the league’s type aspect.

That mission begins on Sunday at dwelling in opposition to St George Illawarra, the place the Sixteenth-placed Raiders will look to take one other step in the direction of closing the hole to the NRL’s high groups.

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Ian Meikle, editor