Jarrod Croker returns from injury for Storm trial
Thursday 7 February 2013 12:01 PM
For someone who lives and breathes rugby league, 152 days seems a cruel amount of time to be forced to wait until you are able to play the game you love.
That will all change this Friday though when Canberra takes on the Melbourne Storm at Simmonds Stadium in Geelong, as Raiders star Jarrod Croker lines up to play in his first game since the 9th of September 2012.
Croker’s last game was in the Raiders 34-16 semi-final win over the Cronulla Sharks at home and whilst Croker was thrilled for the club to progress through to the next round of semi-finals, a stray knee in the final stages of the second half saw the season’s top point scorer assisted from the field with a fractured cheekbone.
The injury forced Croker to miss the Raiders next semi-final appearance against South Sydney.
“This face is all sweet now, it’s probably stronger than the other side now,” chuckled Croker.
“Missing that game wasn’t great last year but that was last year and this is this year so I’m looking forward to getting out there.
“I’m very excited to say the least about tomorrow night. It’s been a long pre-season and I’m probably speaking for all the boys when I say that we’re very excited to get out there and rip in. I can’t wait for this game.”
With the Raiders having the highest representation in the All Stars fixture coupled with a few players not playing due to injury, Coach David Furner has given opportunities to several of the club’s promising rookies.
Due to this, Croker will assume a leadership role for the trial despite his youth.
“There’s a couple of blokes out with the All Stars and a couple of blokes out with injury as well so it gives a lot of the younger guys a chance to get out there and put their best foot forward,” said Croker.
“I’m sure they’re just as excited as the rest of us and I’ll be doing my best to help them out. Blokes like myself and Duges, whilst we’re only 23 or so, it’s a chance for us to show how we handle a leadership sort of role.”
“We’ve got a junior leadership group and there are a couple of us from that in this trial so we’re just going to have to show what we’ve learnt out on the field.”
One of the Raiders Club Player Representatives, Josh McCrone, believes that having the youngsters exposed to an NRL trial will be very beneficial to the club as they evaluate their standing in the game after an arduous pre-season.
“I see it as more of an advantage actually because it’s going to create a bit of depth for us,” explained McCrone.
“It’s been a long pre-season so we’re looking forward to seeing where we’re really at. The pre-season has been really good but we’ll never know until after this game I suppose.
“We can only really test ourselves against ourselves before this so it’s pretty exciting being able to test ourselves against the best team in the comp.
“It’s the perfect way to start the season, playing against the best to see where we’re really at.”