Croker not convinced by Hasler compliment
Canberra captain Jarrod Croker is only worried about the Raiders' own backyard and won't be distracted by external compliments about his side in 2016.
Speaking after Bulldogs coach Des Hasler labelled the Raiders as a "danger side" for the upcoming season, Croker said the club's expectations won't be lost in the shuffle.
"There's always going to be expectation. We put it on ourselves. We know we want to play semi final football. Des is pretty good at throwing the buck onto someone else isn't he?" Croker said.
"He's probably just covering for his own team there.
"People can talk about us all they want, but at the end of the day we just have to go back out there and perform.
"We need to start well and win games at Canberra Stadium because we want to make it a fortress and we want to get our fans back and get the place pumping again."
Heading into his second season as Raiders' captain, Croker has a point when it comes to his team's horrible home record.
Losing nine of their 12 games at GIO Stadium in 2015 – seven of them by seven points or less – Croker is approaching the year ahead a little more on edge than usual.
Complimenting the Raiders' depth for creating a competitive atmosphere during pre-season, the 25-year-old pinpointed several individuals for their starring roles over the past few months.
"It's been great, there's so much competition for positions and all the boys are trying to outdo each other on the field which is a good position for us to be in," Croker said.
"It's a headache for the coaches, but a good one. Nothing is set in concrete that's for sure. Everyone's on the edge, but it's good for guys like me who have been around for a little while.
"It gives you a bit of a rev up to keep improving and to keep working on your game and fitness levels. The harder the work we put in the better we're going to be so I'm really excited about it.
"There are [players even shooting for my position], young Brenko Lee is training really well, training out of his skin so it keeps me on my toes and it's the same for everyone else."
Croker also said there was potential within the club's Nines squad to showcase the best young Raiders stars, with Ricky Stuart's team only playing one trial before the season proper.
"We have seen over past seasons a fairly young squad to the Nines and we have seen some good play over there as well," he said. "Blokes like Lachie Croker really went well last year.
"I'm not sure who is going at the moment, but they'll definitely be out to impress."