Shillington downplays knee incident
Raiders centre Jarrod Croker after being kneed in the face against the Sharks on Sunday. Croker suffered a fractured cheekbone in the collision. Photo: Melissa Adams
Canberra skipper David Shillington insists the club holds no grudges against Cronulla's Jayson Bukuya, despite his accidental knee potentially ending Raiders star Jarrod Croker's season.
The centre was carried off Canberra Stadium in a badly concussed state after Bukuya's knee made contact with his head during Canberra's 34-16 elimination final win on Sunday.
Scans confirmed that Croker had suffered a cheekbone fracture, which will sideline him for at least Saturday's semi-final against South Sydney.
Raiders centre Jarrod Croker is seen to by medical staff after the incident on Sunday. Photo: Melissa Adams
While disappointed at losing the NRL's top pointscorer for 2012, Shillington said the Raiders held no ill-feeling toward Bukuya.
''It's hard to say if it was intentional or not, I don't think it was,'' he said.
''Obviously very disappointed the injury's happened with Crokes, you're not supposed to lead with the knees and we're lucky it didn't cost us the game.
''It didn't look like there was malice in it. It's not worth crying about because we can't take back Croker's injury.''
The Canberra Times understands second-rower Joel Thompson will replace Croker at left centre.
The Raiders believe he is the best alternative for a final as he has a wealth of first-grade experience at centre, and also defends on the left side.
Bench hooker Shaun Berrigan is another option after starting the year in the centres, while Jack Wighton returned from injury in Canberra's Toyota Cup win over the Warriors on Sunday.
Shillington has faith Thompson is up to the task despite having played only once in the centres this year.
''It won't be too much of a change for us, Joely's played heaps of times at centre and we've got plenty of back-rowers who are capable,'' Shillington said.
''It's probably the safest option, and you can't take too many risks in these games. He's really elusive and has got late footwork and sharp speed … he's so effective out there.'' - Jon Tuxworth