Jarrod Croker eyes Canberra Raiders record, but beating Dragons comes first

Jarrod Croker eyes Canberra Raiders record, but beating Dragons comes first

Canberra Raiders captain Jarrod Croker is on the cusp of breaking a long-standing club record, but it's one of his ex-teammates that's on his mind ahead of the Green Machine's first trip to Kogarah in 12 years.

Croker is just three points away from breaking former coach David Furner's Raiders point-scoring record and is almost certain to pass the 1218 milestone against the St George Illawarra Dragons on Thursday night.

Jarrod Croker and Josh Dugan in their Raiders days together.

Jarrod Croker and Josh Dugan in their Raiders days together.Credit:Colleen Petch

But Croker says the Raiders should watch ex-Raider Josh Dugan rather than his points tally if they want to beat the Dragons and end a three-match losing streak against the team.

Dugan and Croker played in the Raiders' junior ranks together, burst into the national under-20s competition and made their NRL debut in the same year.


After seeing Dugan play for Australia last weekend, Croker warned that the Raiders must be on their guard against the livewire fullback who was sacked by Canberra three years ago.

"Funny that," Croker said when pointing out that Dugan always lifted against the Raiders.

"He's in career-best form at the moment. He's an outstanding player and has been for a long time We will have to be at our best against him."

The Raiders haven't played at Kogarah since 2004 and face a massive challenge to end a three-match drought against the Dragons.

It's no coincidence that Dugan's presence has coincided with the Dragons' resurgence against the Raiders after one of the longest hoodoos in NRL history.

The Raiders lost just one game against the Dragons between 2002 and 2013 before stumbling in the last three matches.

Croker continues to play down his personal milestone, to focus on starting a crucial five-game block with a win against the Dragons.

But the fact that Furner was still playing in England the last time the Raiders played at Kogarah is an indication of how significant the moment is as he closes in on Furner's 16-year record.

It was hoped that Croker would pass Furner in the club's last match against the Penrith Panthers, but he fell agonisingly short in a tough one-point loss.

His solution for ending all the talk about reaching the record is simple - score the first try.

"It would be nice [to get it out of the way], hopefully first try scorer to knock it straight out of the road," the 25-year-old said.

"If it comes, it comes and I'll be pretty excited but it's something I probably won't even worry about until after the game. , But hopefully it happens because we'll need a few more than three points to [beat the Dragons]."

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart has named an unchanged line-up for the clash while the Dragons have lost Country representative Jack de Bellin.

Croker is unassuming and would rather have the focus on the team, but has already played 173 NRL games, represented the Prime Minister's XIII, played twice for the NRL All Stars and twice for NSW Country.

Brisbane and All Stars coach Wayne Bennett said earlier this year Croker would be the "first guy I'd be picking ... I love him" for the NSW State of Origin side.

"But Crokes thinks about the team first and when he does [get the point-scoring record], we'll celebrate that as a team," said Raiders, Queensland and Australian back-rower Josh Papalii.

"He's the captain of our team ... for him to achieve that, the boys will definitely appreciate it and he's still young as well.

"Everyone has a very high opinion of Crokes and he's finally being rewarded. But it's what he does off the field [that sets him apart] and the boys really appreciate that."


Thursday: St George Illawarra Dragons v Canberra Raiders at Jubilee Oval, 7.50pm. TV time: Live on Fox Sports 1 and Win.

Chris Dutton is the sports editor at The Canberra Times.

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