‘I wish we had another 13 of him’ Stalwart heads for NRL milestone

James Gordon

Canberra will be without Jarrod Croker (left) this week

Canberra Raiders captain Jarrod Croker will be rested this weekend to enable him to make a milestone appearance in front of his home fans.

Croker, 32, is set to become only the 48th player in Australian rugby league history to reach 300-games, and only the 16th player to have done it at one club.

He made his 299th appearance in the win over South Sydney at the weekend, a game overshadowed by the shocking scenes that saw forward Corey Narawira-Naera collapse and suffer a seizure, before being whisked off to hospital.

The stalwart centre made his debut in round two of the 2009 season and has been a mainstay ever since, finishing as the club’s top try scorer with 12 tries in 21 appearances in his first year.

Canberra CEO Don Furner told Sydney Morning Herald: “I’ve raised it with him a couple of times recently and he’s said, ‘Don’t talk to me, I don’t want to talk about it.’ Once he got to 299, then we could talk after the game.

“I don’t think injuries will change that, and I don’t think Tim Sheens is seeing it as disrespectful.

“Of all the past greats that we’ve had, no one deserves 300 games more than him. You can print that, and he deserves to have that game at home. He’s been with us since Harold Matts, he’s never caused a hint of trouble and I wish we had another 13 Jarrod Crokers.”

Joining an exclusive club

Croker will become the third player to reach the 300-game milestone in the NRL this year, following on from Jesse Bromwich and Ben Hunt.

Now at the Dolphins, Bromwich played his first 295 NRL games for Melbourne Storm, where he won three NRL titles and was Dally M prop of the year in 2016.

Australia international Ben Hunt also hit 300 games earlier this month, splitting them between spells at Brisbane Broncos and current club St George-Illawarra Dragons.

The 33-year-old reached the milestone in round 11, when the Dragons were beaten 42-22 by North Queensland Cowboys.

The only other active player with more than 300 games under his belt is Cowboys forward James Tamou, who hit the milestone while playing for Wests Tigers last season.

Croker will become only the second player to reach 300 games for Canberra, following on from namesake Jason Croker.

Ex-Catalans Dragons back-rower or centre Croker played 318 times for the Raiders before making the move to Super League to finish his career.

Other former Canberra players who have achieved the milestone for games played across multiple clubs are Luke Priddis and Ruben Wiki.

Of the 47 players to have hit the 300 match milestone, only one has gone on to hit 400 – Australia and Melbourne legend Cameron Smith, who finished on 430, some 58 ahead of the next highest.

Croker will now likely get a heroes reception at Canberra’s next home game, against New Zealand Warriors on Friday June 9, when he racks up his 300th appearance at their home ground, the GIO Stadium in Canberra.

NRL star recovering after suffering seizure in match that left fans in shock