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'Headless chook' Croker ruffles Roosters feathers

Throughout Manly's pre-season Lachlan Croker trained in the halves and at hooker but never at left centre.

But that's where he played most of his 22 minutes on Saturday in the 9-8 win over the Roosters and he thrived.

A one-on-one steal off winger Matt Ikuvalu led to points later in the same set – a penalty goal to Reuben Garrick.

Then a smothering tackle on fullback James Tedesco jolted the ball free and gave possession back to the Sea Eagles allowing Daly Cherry-Evans the chance to kick his match-winning field goal.

"It was more about just watching the boys for 60 minutes and seeing how hard they were working," Croker told

Match Highlights: Roosters v Sea Eagles

"I just didn't want to be the one to let anyone down."

The Goulburn product came off the bench to replace Brad Parker on the left edge after he was sent for an HIA, which he failed after a head-knock in making a tackle.

Playing opposite Kiwis centre Joey Manu and trying to contain him didn’t make things easy for Croker at first.

But he handled it with such aplomb it seemed that coach Des Hasler had turned Croker into the ultimate utility man.

But think again…

"I've never trained in the centres; I've never played in the centres; I've never seen myself as a centre," Croker said.

Cherry-Evans edges Manly in front with field goal

"It was one of three positions I ended up playing in those last 15 minutes. I was running around like a headless chook.

"It was more so that I was in a position to do those things (Ikuvalu, Tedesco tackles). I'm sure if anyone was as  fresh as I was and in that position, then they'd do the same sort of thing.

"You get inspired by your teammates who have been playing their guts out in front of no fans. It was a proud win and gutsy win.

"I'm just glad I got to be a part of it. Sitting there watching it from the bench is hard at times."

Croker spoke to during the pre-season about his to lock down a position in the starting side but it seems that No.14 jersey will be stamped on his papers for a while yet.

"I'm just stoked to be around the boys and playing footy," said the 23-year-old who has endured three knee reconstructions since 2014.

"If that's my job to be playing on the bench I’ll do that.

"And if it's my job to rub Turbo's calves so he can save another seven or more tries then I'll do that.

"Whatever is needed I'm more than happy to do."

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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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