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'It's not hard to be nice': Croker nominated for Ken Stephen Medal

Jarrod Croker appreciates that a simple gesture of kindness can make someone's day.

"It's not hard to be nice," the unassuming Raiders captain said.

From gifting kids his trademark headgear to sending well-wishes on social media, nothing is ever a burden for the 30-year-old.

Croker has been nominated for the Ken Stephen Medal, proudly brought to you by My Property Consultants, but modestly insisted that he doesn't go out of his way to help the community.

"I literally just try and be a good person," he said.

"With anything in life, I'm very bad at saying no. I can’t really say no to people. If someone asks, I really try and do it for them."

A Canberra junior who hails from Goulburn, Croker has a great affinity for the area and loves being part of club programs.

"As long as I've been here [at the Raiders], it's always been about the community and we've always had a really strong connection and even more so since Ricky Stuart came down," he said.

"I remember when we used to have the Raiders players come to our school in Goulburn when you were younger and it was something you'd really look forward to.

"I always say there's going to be a time when the kids probably don't remember you, so you might as well enjoy it while they do."

Social media is routinely abuzz with stories from grateful parents whose children Croker has delighted with an interaction.

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It's become tradition after matches for Croker to pass on his headgear, which the centre said is "always enjoyable".

"Obviously Johnathan Thurston used to do it a lot and back when I first started I'd probably have two headgears or one headgear to last me a whole year, so it was a bit dirty and smelly," Croker said.

"Once I was lucky enough to get a contract with [headgear manufacturer] Madison they would send me down a box or two throughout the year. There are about 20 or 30 headgears in a box.

"I thought, well, I've got enough here to give away one every game. Some kids might love it, some kids might not want my headgear.

"It's easy for me to do ... It doesn’t take much to try and give a little back whenever you can."

But Croker isn't without flaws. He reckons he's "pretty hopeless" at attending to unread messages on his phone, so he thanked wife Brittney for connecting him with people online.

"My wife gets a lot of people asking to do a video message or stuff like that and gets me onto it and I do videos for kids," he said.

And that's significant given crowd restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic have made it harder to engage with fans.

"Probably the main thing with this COVID stuff has been being able to send out a headgear or keep a headgear after a game and send it to a young fella," Croker said.

2019 Ken Stephen Medal Finalist - Sia Soliola

"Or a kicking tee or a lot of the time I'll do a video to wish someone well or a happy birthday or something like that.

"I'm certainly not the only bloke who does it. I reckon 99 percent of players do this sort of stuff. We're very privileged to be in the position we're in with kids looking up to us."

Croker said it would be "very special" to win the Ken Stephen Medal after teammate Sia Soliola achieved the honour last year.

"To be on a list with Sia in general let alone all the previous winners and just to be nominated, it's extremely humbling," he said.

"[The nomination] is a reflection of my family and my parents and my wife. Hopefully they enjoy that because they're the ones that make me a better person. It'd be as much them as it is me.

"Personally, I think the award should go to the Warriors for what they've had to sacrifice this season. That'd be my take on it all.

"I think Roger [Tuivasa-Sheck] is nominated ... Those guys deserve it as much as anyone else and I don’t think anyone would argue."

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.