Aidan Sezer joins Raiders captain Jarrod Croker on the sidelines
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Aidan Sezer joins Raiders captain Jarrod Croker on the sidelines

The Canberra Raiders' injury woes have deepened with halfback Aidan Sezer hurting his hamstring during goal-kicking practice on Tuesday.

It comes on the back of the Raiders officially ruling captain Jarrod Croker out for the rest of the season, needing surgery on his left knee.

It's a massive blow for the ninth-placed Green Machine who sit two wins outside the eight and need to win almost every game for the rest of the regular season to keep their finals hopes alive.

Aidan Sezer has hurt his hamstring and won't play the Sharks.

Aidan Sezer has hurt his hamstring and won't play the Sharks.

Photo: Jamila Toderas

Not only that, Sezer and halves partner Sam Williams controlled the game well in the Raiders' victory over North Queensland, with their kicking games especially impressive.

It's unclear how long Sezer will be out for, with Blake Austin to come into the halves.

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Austin could be an option to take over the kicking duties with both Sezer and Croker out, while fullback Brad Abbey, winger Jordan Rapana and Williams are also options.

Croker will have surgery early next week and will return to training before the end of the year.

The 27-year-old dislocated his kneecap during the first half of the Raiders' 38-12 victory over the North Queensland Cowboys at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.

He initially strapped it and played on, but collapsed again before half-time and didn't finish the game.

Raiders coach Ricky Stuart named versatile back Michael Oldfield to replace Croker in the centres on Tuesday, with Nick Cotric returning to his usual wing and Abbey at fullback.

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Now Stuart will need to bring another player onto the bench, with Jack Murchie, Royce Hunt and Emre Guler named in the 21.

The double blow will make it tough for the Raiders to continue their unusual away record against the Sharks.

The away team has won the last 10  games between the two sides, with the Raiders' win at Shark Park their best win of the 2017 season.

Rapana backed Oldfield, who re-signed for another two years on Tuesday, to cover Croker.

Jarrod Croker has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

Jarrod Croker has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

Photo: Dion Georgopoulos

"It's obviously disappointing, [Croker]'s a big part of our team and our captain," he said.

"In a way I think the boys will lift for him, him being out and I just wish him all the best with his recovery. The sooner he's back the better.

"There is depth here. Oldie just re-signed, I know he can cover at centre."

Oldfield said they had plenty of versatility in the backline, which would help cover the loss of Croker.

They're also without usual fullback Jack Wighton (suspended), New Zealand international Joe Tapine (suspended) and prop Shannon Boyd (calf).

While Oldfield has played on the wing for all six of his Raiders appearances, the 27-year-old has played in the centres for Mounties in the NSW Cup this season.

"It is very disappointing with Jarrod being out, he's obviously our skipper and a big part of our team," he said.

"We've got lots of players who can fill many roles in our team, like Blake [Austin] obviously coming off the bench did a great job [covering Croker on the weekend].

"My whole time at Mounties this year I've been playing centres. He's got plenty of options there."

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Stuart had several other options to cover Croker, with Cotric able to play at fullback or centre as well.

With Abbey out concussed in the Cowboys win, Cotric slotted in seamlessly at fullback. Abbey can also play on the wing or in the centres as well.

Austin showed he was another option, scoring a try within two minutes of replacing Croker, although Stuart opted to keep him as the utility on the bench.

Rapana backed Cotric to cover whichever position he ended up playing.

"He's a freak, he can cover anywhere in the backline. At the moment with Jack out I think fullback's a good position for him," Rapana said.

"He brings the ball out strong. Not sure whether 'Sticky' [Stuart] will put him to centre or not, but anywhere he goes he'll do a job and do it well."

NRL ROUND 19

Friday: Canberra Raiders v Cronulla Sharks at Shark Park, 6pm. Live on Fox League.

Raiders team: 1. Brad Abbey, 2. Nick Cotric, 3. Michael Oldfield, 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Jordan Rapana, 6. Sam Williams, 7. Aidan Sezer, 8. Dunamis Lui, 9. Josh Hodgson (c), 10. Junior Paulo, 11. Sia Soliola, 12. Elliott Whitehead, 13. Josh Papalii. Interchange from: 14. Blake Austin, 15. Luke Bateman, 16. Siliva Havili, 17. Liam Knight, 18. Craig Garvey, 19. Jack Murchie, 20. Royce Hunt, 21. Emre Guler.

Sharks team: 1. Valentine Holmes, 2 Sione Katoa, 3 Jesse Ramien, 4 Ricky Leutele, 5 Edrick Lee, 6 Matt Moylan, 7 Chad Townsend, 8 Andrew Fifita, 9 Jayden Brailey, 10 Matt Prior, 11 Scott Sorensen, 12 Wade Graham, 13 Paul Gallen. Interchange from: 14 Joseph Paulo, 15 James Segeyaro, 16 Aaron Woods, 17 Jayson Bukuya, 18 Ava Seumanufagai, 19 Sosaia Feki, 20 Kurt Dillon, 21 Kyle Flanagan.

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.

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