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Jarrod Croker humbled as Wayne Bennett says he is a must for the Blues

Far be it for Wayne Bennett to tell New South Wales selectors how to run their ship, but he did offer one blunt suggestion to Laurie Daley should they want to improve their Origin fortunes in 2016 - pick Jarrod Croker.

In the wake of the World All Stars win over the Indigenous team at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night, Bennett was swift to declare his admiration for the talented Raiders centre, going as far to say he should be one of the first men selected in the Blues back line.

Croker has never played Origin but if there was ever a year when fresh opportunities could present themselves, it is this one. The Blues were demolished 52-6 in game three of last year's Origin and Daley has declared all bets are off, even if he was reluctant to gush over Croker in his post-match press conference.

Croker, who captains the young Raiders, has been knocking on the door for a number of seasons but with Michael Jennings and Josh Morris the preferred pairing, has not been invited inside the camp.

Bennett clearly feels that is an oversight, saying Croker's consistent brand of play, which combines a neat flick-passing game with smothering defence, could be exactly what NSW need against the might of the Maroons.

"If I was a NSW selector he'd be the first guy I'd be picking in the centres for them. I love him. I love what he brings," Bennett said. 


"He's consistently good every year for Canberra, if they're [NSW] looking for something they haven't got. He did a great job."

Daley seemed slightly taken aback at Bennett's endorsement late on Saturday night but promised suffering Blues fans they would take every option seriously ahead of this year's series.

"He's a good player He's been a good player for the Raiders. You've got to look at all options after game three last year. I'll see how the incumbents go," Daley said.

Croker may be perceived as not being damaging enough in attack for NSW selectors, although his back-hander to set up Semi Radradra on Saturday night showed the damage he can do with the ball.

He is an unashamed defensive specialist and conceded there were fewer and fewer of his ilk in the game, especially around the younger back line players.

But if there is anything NSW could do with in the back line it is a solid stopper to try and shut down a Maroons attacking unit that simply blew the Blues off the park to wrap up another series.

Croker, now 25, was clearly humbled by Bennett's public backing, saying Origin remained a dream but all of his energies would lie with the Raiders.

"It is nice, from one of the greatest coaches in the game. That's nice from Wayne, a bit humbling. My focus now is going back and getting my self right for round one with the Raiders," Croker said.

"If we start the season really well, then we do have blokes that can get picked in rep sides. I'd love to ... there's nobody in the NRL that doesn't want to play Origin."

Croker said all the right things but having the support of a heavyweight pundit like Bennett could be just what he needs to hoist his name up in lights in the first half of the year.

Fellow Raider Jack Wighton left the field with a head knock attempting to score a try for the Indigenous All Stars. 

The fullback had no lingering effects on Sunday, but will have to pass a concussion test to take his place in Canberra's trial against Newcastle at his home town Orange on Saturday.