Croker keen to fill leadership void
Still just 24, Canberra centre Jarrod Croker is now a senior player at Canberra and is putting his hand up to replace UK-bound Terry Campese as club captain in 2015.
Croker deputised for the Hull-bound playmaker when he co-captained the club with Josh McCrone in the final few rounds of the past season, when Campese was injured and then dropped back to NSW Cup.
While there is no shortage of leaders at the club, and forwards like Shaun Fensom and David Shillington have strong claims, the Goulburn Stockmen junior said he is ready if given the chance by Raiders coach Ricky Stuart.
"It would be nice. It would actually be a dream come true to captain the club that you love," Croker told NRL.com.
"But it's not my decision. I think 'Sticky' is going to play it over the pre-season and see who is best by the end of it. I can only do my bit there and just wait and see."
Croker said Campese will be sorely missed at the club, and the former Test and Origin playmaker's influence will continue to be felt on and off the field.
"[Campese] is one of my best mates and he was a huge influence for me at the beginning of my career … and he's been a massive influence for so many kids around the club," Croker said.
"He was forever helping out other people and teaching young kids what to do. He is an experienced campaigner I guess… and it is very sad to see him go but that's just the way it goes unfortunately."
With the chance to lead several Raiders recruits around the paddock, Croker said the new players around the club are doing their fair share to influence the culture of the club already.
Stuart has brought in some experienced players – ex-Rooster Frank-Paul Nuuausala last week joined former Storm winger Sisa Waqa and English Test hooker Josh Hodgson, among others – Croker said the new additions have been brilliant for the club over the course of the pre-season so far.
"The [new blokes] have been training really well and leading. Guys like Josh Hodgson, [Iosia] Soliola, Blake Austin and even Sisa Waqa do a fair bit of talking. You can tell that they're here and they're passionate and want to lead the team around which is good for us," Croker said.
"Frank-Paul came [Monday] morning and I had a good chat with him. He's excited about playing here and he seems very professional so guys like that, you build your team around them so it's exciting times.
"We're looking at changing the culture and rebuild the joint and I think we have done well recruitment-wise."