Jarrod Croker delivered good news to the first day of Canberra's pre-season training by declaring he was on track to be fit for their round one clash against the Titans at the Gold Coast.
Croker tore ligaments in his left knee in the round 18 win over the Cowboys in July, and underwent a full knee reconstruction.
″I'll be fine for round one,″ the 28-year-old told NRL.com on Thursday.
″I've been doing straight-line running but now I'm back at pre-season today I'll start doing a little change-of-direction.
″I'm hoping to do more football-style stuff like kicking and more speed. After Christmas I'll be doing full contact and full sessions of training.″
It seems appropriate the Raiders' famous green jersey will be out playing on St Patrick's day – Sunday, March 17, in round one action.
And the goal-kicking captain, who has racked up 1768 points from tries and goals over his 230 NRL appearances, is crucial to their hopes of climbing into the finals in 2019 after two years of missing the cut.
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He had five try assists and scored seven himself, along with his 63 goals, before getting injured.
″It's the first real surgery I've needed. I've dislocated it before I didn't require surgery,″ Croker said.
″It's only the first reco I've had, but hopefully the last.″
Canberra showed consistency in one aspect between 2017 and 2018 – they finished 10th both times on the Telstra Premiership ladder.
Croker said that would have to change. Canberra were ranked fourth for scoring points last year and had the only positive differential in the bottom eight, but finished five wins adrift of eighth spot with a 10-14 record.
″Obviously defensively is where we've let ourselves down,″ Croker said. ″We're scoring enough points to win games but there's been too many games last year where we let one too many tries and gave away too many leads.″
Six times the Raiders surrendered leads of 10 points or more in 2018.
Canberra have been linked to potentially expressing interest in Kiwis No.7 Shaun Johnson in a NewsCorp report but NRL.com understands Canberra are not in a position salary cap-wise to consider a player with the price tag that the talented halfback carries.
Raiders officials say they've been told that not only do the Warriors want him to stay but Johnson doesn't want to leave when his contract expires at the end of next season.
Of course, the situation may change during the 2019 season - Johnson is allowed to negotiate with other clubs as of today.
The Warriors conceded last week they would be unlikely to offer Johnson a new contract as financially lucrative as his current deal.
Raiders address Johnson speculation