By STEVE MASCORD
AFTER re-signing until the end of 2015, goalkicking Canberra centre Jarrod Croker has a message for the Canberra Raiders – now keep my mates.
The Raiders celebrated the Croker’s re-signing at the weekend by coming from 16-4 down to deny the Warriors their first win at Canberra Stadium since 1997.
But Croker has as good a knowledge of team-mates coming off contract as Green Machine CEO Don Furner and will be watching closely as negotiations open with his team-mates.
“I’d love nothing more than to see some of the other blokes who I’ve played a lot of footy with, who are close mates, stay,” said the 22-year-old.
“Joely (Thompson), Sammy (Williams), Whitey (Brett White), Joey Picker, blokes like that … Buttsy (Glen Buttriss). I think we’ve got the squad to do something in the next couple of years.
“There’s a few off (contract) but hopefully they get it all sorted. It’s tough to keep everyone, isn’t it? But hopefully all those blokes, the club will be trying hard to keep them.
“They’re key players. We’re all close mate.”
Asked if he had asked the club about their retention plans before agreeing to stay, Croker said: “You talk about it but I don’t think I was ever really going anywhere, to tell the truth.
“It’s my home and I wanted to be here.”
The return of Terry Campese for a 50-minute stint inspired the Raiders on Saturday
“He’s a pretty positive person,” said Croker. “Six months out from his return, he’s hanging around the club and he’s organising stuff, organising team lunches.
“All the stuff he does off the field, all his charity work – he’s phenomenal. He’s just a champion bloke and a champion player and you just want to run on with him.”
One man who had mixed feelings about Saturday night’s win was proud Kiwi Matt McIllwrick, the Raiders hooker.
“I went to Christchurch Boys high which was a renowned rugby union school,” he said. “Dan Carter went through there but I always stuck with league.
“When I was 16, I made the 16s Kiwi side and played alongside (current Warrior) Ben Henry – he was my captain.”
NB: Since this story appeared, Joel Thompson signed with St George Illawarra.
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK