CANBERRA RAIDERS centre Jarrod Croker is confident he will be fit for round one, despite admitting he initially feared the worst after suffering a knee injury against Melbourne on Friday night.
Croker slumped to the ground in agony after twisting his right knee in a tackle early in the pre-season trial at Geelong.
Raiders medical staff believe he has suffered a minor medial ligament strain, but if scans on Monday reveal a grade-two strain, he could be sidelined for a month.
Having suffered similar issues with his knee in the past, Croker is confident he will be right for Canberra's season opener at Penrith on March 10.
Last year's NRL leading pointscorer was the only player to suffer an injury on Friday night for the Raiders. ''It's a bit stiff after being in a brace all night, but I think it will be fine,'' Croker said on Saturday.
''I've done a similar thing before. At first I panicked and thought I'd done something worse, but once I got up and knew I could walk over to the other side of the ground and walk off, I knew it wasn't as bad as first thought. I was in a fair bit of pain initially, and in a bit of panic and shock.''
The 22-year-old received an injection in his knee during the off-season, but said it was not an issue he was too concerned about.
Another knee injury is the last thing the Raiders need, with Terry Campese and Brett White only recently returning to full-time training after missing most of last year.
''I've had a couple of troubles with the same knee. I had it injected over the off season and it helped for a while, but it was a pretty awkward twist,'' Croker said. ''It's not something that occurs very often, but every now and then I get the odd tweak of it and it comes back for a few days, but it's pretty rare. It's not like it's an ongoing problem or I've got a dodgy knee or anything.''
Croker remains optimistic he will line up in the Raiders' final trial against Canterbury in Goulburn on February 23, but he won't take any risks despite being desperate to play in his home town.
''It'd be nice to play there and I've been looking forward to it a fair bit, but if it's not 100 per cent I'm not going to play just because it's my home town,'' Croker said.
''The way the boys played last night, we've got plenty of depth by the look of things, so that's not an issue for us. I hate missing any sort of footy, so that's the aim. I'll wait and see what the doc says on Monday and go from there.''