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Raiders co-captain Jarrod Croker

Canberra co-captain Jarrod Croker has seen a lot of football but even he struggles to remember a better turnaround than the one by the Penrith Panthers.

In Wagga for a Raiders home game back in round eight, Ivan Cleary cut a dejected figure post-match.

Not only had his side been thumped by 18 points by the Raiders he had lost three key players to injury and unbeknown to him, two more losses would follow in the next fortnight.

However, Croker said his side were treating the Penrith team of 11 weeks ago like a distant memory knowing they faced a much stiffer task at Panthers Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

"It's pretty special isn't it?" Croker said when asked about the Panthers' turnaround.

"I sort of hadn't realised it really until this week. I don't watch too much footy or worry about too many other sides, but it's been made note of this week they are playing well and coming home with a wet sail.

"They do it a little bit most years, they tend to build momentum and confidence at the back end of the year. But it is one of the more amazing turnarounds for sure."

Since round eleven the Panthers have won seven in-a-row, or one shy of equally the club record.

Elliott Whitehead said finishing off the Raiders sets better than they did in their win over the Wests Tigers will help nullify the potent Panthers halves pair of James Maloney and Nathan Cleary.

"They're going to be one of the main targets for us, but as long as we complete where we want to and finish our sets where we want to, hopefully we can keep them a little bit quiet," he said.

The kicking games will be crucial for both sides with two in-form fullbacks in the form of Dylan Edwards and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad.

Edwards has run for 140 metres or more in the last six games, breaking the double century mark three times.

While Nicoll-Klokstad leads the NRL in kick returns metres averaging 70 per game for a total of 1,196 for the season - or 301 more than James Tedesco.

Croker said his No.1 should be right to play the Panthers despite copping plenty of punishment last weekend.

"I think he's okay, he had a light jog and he looked okay. I was a bit worried there are first because he was in some pain [post game]," he said.

"When it's a fast free-flowing game, guys like Charnze and Dylan Edwards are heavily involved so I expect nothing different this week."

After of a tough fortnight away to Penrith and on the road to Auckland and the Warriors, the Raiders face Telstra Premiership favourites Sydney Roosters and Melbourne Storm. The next month is a true litmus test for the Green Machine's title chances.

Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton.
Raiders five-eighth Jack Wighton. ©Keegan Carroll/NRL Photos

Croker says backing themselves without the ball and decluttering the game plan will continue to be crucial over the next four weeks.

"We've simplified our game quite a lot, our defence is something we've worked hard on and pride ourselves on," he said.

"In our attack, I think we're playing a lot more simply, Hodgo [Josh Hodgson] and Aidan [Sezer], and even when Sammy Williams is in there, we're playing a lot more direct.

"That frees up guys like Jack [Wighton] and the quality back rowers we have."

Sia Soliola will celebrate his 100th games for the Raiders this weekend.

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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