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Jarrod Croker suffered a season-ending knee injury in round 18.

Canberra Raiders co-captain Jarrod Croker has confirmed he will make his return to the field in the side's pre-season trial against the Canterbury Bulldogs on February 23.

Croker has been out of action since round 18 last year, when he crumbled to the GIO Stadium turf after dislocating a knee, sparking the longest period out of the game due to injury for the 230-game veteran.

The 28-year-old said he hasn't held back during the Raiders' contact sessions, and that the worst injury of his career was behind him.

"I think confidence-wise I feel good, I don't know how I'll go coming into a game but at the moment I feel good," Croker told

"Obviously when you're coming into [training again] you think 'that feels different or that feels weird' but it's just about getting back into it and I've slowly forgotten about it to be honest.

"I'll play in the trial game in a couple of weeks and go onto round one.

"I’ll get involved and get as much contact as I can to make sure it's all good for round one."

Canberra captain Jarrod Croker after injuring his knee last season.
Canberra captain Jarrod Croker after injuring his knee last season. ©Keegan Carroll/NRL Photos

The Raiders missed their on-field leader during the closing stages of the 2018 Telstra Premiership, and missed the finals for the fourth time in five seasons.

"It was disappointing not to play those last eight weeks, I've probably not sat out more than two weeks in any sport before," Croker said.

"So, it was tough to watch but it's given me a freshen up and a revamp and even more hungry to go again last year."

Canberra has opted to compete in two trials this pre-season in a bid to hit the ground running in round one.

Last season the Raiders dug themselves a hole on the competition ladder early, losing their first three games by a combined margin of five points before being thumbed by Manly 32-16.

"I think [playing more trials] can help, every player says there's no fitness like match fitness, so you can do all of the laps you want, but you get to the first 10 minutes of a game and you're still gone," Croker said.

"The depth we've got, especially in your forwards, means there is competition for spots which is also probably another reason why we're playing another trial."

Another player set to return during the trials is Jack Wighton, after serving his suspension for an off-field assault during a night out in Canberra.

Wighton has spent time practicing his tactical kicking this pre-season ahead of a likely duel with Sam Williams during the trials as to who will partner Aidan Sezer in the halves for round one.

"I'd say he'll get tested in the trials but we're lucky to also have Sammy Williams there as well so if we need to change the dynamic there [in the halves] we can," Croker said.

"Jack's been really good and focusing on that front-line defence and anybody who's seen Jack tackle knows he's a good defender.

"But it's good for Jack to branch out his game and fullback and five-eighth can be very similar at times and I think Jack can play both."

How Wighton is taking his second chance

Croker also placed his vote on Nick Cotric staying on the wing this season to continue his growth in the game, which has seen the 20-year-old play well beyond his years already.

"The game at fullback is so technical now and your fullback is probably the most important position defensively to adjust numbers and fill in around the ruck," he said.

"I think the time of Nick's career isn't right for him to go in at fullback, we go so much out of him on the wing at the moment.

"He still gets all of his carries and we've got a combination down on that left edge which we've been working on a lot again during the pre-season."

Acknowledgement of Country

Canberra Raiders respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.