Croker to seek out NRL referees

Like most of the laidback people born and bred not too far from the nation's capital, Jarrod Croker isn't one for superstitions, paranoia, or lucky red underwear. 

Except when it comes to his headgear. 

The new Raiders captain turned a few heads when he ran out in the second game of the Auckland Nines without his trademark protection over his bleach blonde hair, perhaps an early indication that his elevated position had invoked a more daring player in 2015. 

But alas, in camp for the NRL All Stars game in Robina on Friday night, Croker explained otherwise. 

"I thought I packed two and I gave one to a little kid after the first game at the Nines," he said. 

"And then I realised I didn't pack my other one, so I had to go without it in the second game. It wasn't too bad. Lucky it was only the Nines. I would've been a bit more paranoid if it was a proper game."

At just 25 years of age, Croker is currently the youngest skipper in the NRL. He insists that having the 'C' next to his name isn't going to change the way he applies himself on the field. 

"Obviously I haven't had a game yet, or it hasn't been too busy at the moment so I can't really tell you too much about that at the moment," he said. 

"But my actions on the field will be the same, and my game won't change at all. It'll just be a few things here and there off the field that I'll have to pick up and probably be a bit more busier."

But then NRL.com brought up the referees. 

Canberra – and this might knock Ricky Stuart off his chair – were statistically one of the most well-behaved sides in the NRL last season after being pinged just 134 times before hitting Mad Monday. Only the Dragons gave away fewer penalties over the 26 rounds. 

However that won't stop Croker from getting his two bobs worth in with the whistle-blowers this season. And he might start with a little face time on the new ruck interpretation before the March kick-off. 

"We've only had the one session [with the referees] and it was a pretty quick one so I haven't had a lot of chance to have a good explanation I guess of the new ruck rules. I will get around to that," he said. 

"Hopefully they come around a few more times and in the trials as well we can pick up a little bit more. But it's going to be interesting to see how it goes."

Having only ever skippered a team in his glory days at Goulburn, the point-scoring wiz admitted he wasn't exactly the town's choirboy in the junior leagues. 

"You'd have to ask me old man [about] that," he laughed. "I'm pretty sure I wasn't too bad. I've always worn my heart on my sleeve and been a bit of a competitor so there are obviously times there where you can get a bit frustrated. But that's all competitive nature."