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Raiders centre Jarrod Croker will captain a Raiders team for the first time when he takes charge of a youthful and attacking squad for this month's Dick Smith Auckland Nines tournament.
The 23-year-old veteran of more than 100 NRL games for the Green Machine said he is excited about the prospect of leading the young Raiders team in the first ever NRL nines tournament.
The squad also includes Junior Kangaroos captain Mitchell Cornish who seems set to make his NRL debut at halfback early in 2014, and Cornish's Junior Kangaroos teammate Jack Ahearn.
“It’s a huge honour to captain the Raiders and I can’t wait to lead the boys out onto the field in Auckland,” Croker said. “After getting the chance to play my 100th game for the team I love last year I didn’t think it could get much better, but captaining the Raiders is definitely right up there.”
Croker said he’s looking forward to the challenge of the fast paced nines and said there were plenty of players in the Raiders squad people would remember by the end of the tournament.
“It’s a bit of unknown being the first time we’ve played in this type of tournament, but we are going over to Auckland looking at surprising a few teams and playing some fun and carefree footy,” Croker said.
“There are some young guys in our squad like Luke Bateman, Jack Ahearn and Andrew Heffernan who have all been massive at NYC level and they will get a chance to show their skill on a bigger stage.”
The Raiders Nines squad also features other established NRL players including Reece Robinson, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Joel Edwards.
The Raiders said assistant coach Matt Parish will travel with the team as coach for the event, with Ricky Stuart remaining in Canberra to prepare the rest of the Raiders squad for their second trial match against the Newcastle Knights on February 22 in Tamworth.
Jarrod Croker (C)