Dragons' hoodoo means nothing: Croker
It has been 14 seasons since the St George Illawarra Dragons have been victorious in Canberra, and Raiders centre Jarrod Croker is as confounded as the rest of us as to how it's happened.
The Raiders haven't lost to the Dragons in Canberra since 2000 with the Red V only managing to beat the Green Machine only twice since (both times in Wollongong) in their past 19 meetings.
And after being involved in most of them since his debut in 2009, Croker struggled for an explanation.
"If I knew [how the hoodoo worked] I would be spreading the word right now I can tell you that now," Croker told NRL.com.
"What there is no doubt about is that [the Dragons] have had a pretty good season and they have been playing some good footy. They are a class side with some classy players and they will be tough."
With the Raiders having lost four games on the trot, Croker believes that his wooden spoon contending Raiders' are in no position to brag about their winning record against the Red V considering the Dragons are still in with a shot of making the top eight.
"We are at opposite ends of the scale this year. They have been a lot better than us," Croker said.
"We also definitely don't give them any extra attention at training [considering the hoodoo]. We don't want to get complacent, we know we have to show up and play well otherwise they'll come out and roll us."
"We have a bit of pressure to perform now. For us it is just about getting that one win and if we put in a similar attitude with the same energy as the one we did against the Eels we'll be right in it this weekend.
"That's the only thing we can control at the moment. We want to finish off strongly and string a few games together – finish the year on a bit of a high."
The Raiders were unlucky losers last weekend when they succumbed to a Jarryd Hayne-inspired Eels in the final eight minutes, having controlled momentum for the majority of the game.
"That whole second half I thought was a massive effort from the boys. We pretty much defended the whole half. We had few chances to go on the attack but we didn't capitalise with them," Croker said.
"You saw that it only takes one little slip-up in defence, and someone like Jarryd Hayne will hurt you which he did. Sure it was a big effort but it is still disappointing that we didn't get the win."
The 23-year-old insists there were plenty of positives to come out of their 18-10 loss to the Eels, especially in the defensive department considering they were destroyed 54-18 only six days earlier by the Warriors.
"Our defence was definitely a positive considering the week before with the way we defended [against the Warriors]. We knew we were better than that as a team and as individuals and we went out there to prove that and it was a massive turnaround even though we didn't win," Croker said.
"We showed a lot of people that we are a capable in defence and Ricky was pretty impressed with our effort and our massive turnaround in attitude and character despite the disappointment of losing."
Further plusses for the Raiders included the surprise return of big winger Edrick Lee from a foot injury and the re-emergence of fullback Jordan Rapana, who was last sighted in the NRL back in 2008 with the Gold Coast Titans.
"It was good to have big Eddy back outside of me," Croker said.
"We obviously have a good little combination going there so I really enjoyed having him back because he played really well first game back considering he hadn't played for a couple of months.
"I also thought Jordan Rapana was one of our best players on his club debut, and for someone who hadn't played in the NRL for six years he certainly didn't show it, and I think his performance is a positive sign for us."