NRL: Stats back Canberra coach Ricky Stuart’s belief Jarrod Croker is unfairly criticised

by admin on July 13th, 2018

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Jarrod Croker and Edrick Lee celebrate a try against the Warriors. Photo: Rohan ThomsonCanberra Raider Jarrod Croker has heard it his entire career – “he’s a point-scoring machine, but he can’t tackle”.
Nanjing Night Net

But coach Ricky Stuart’s belief that his skipper is unfairly criticised is backed up by the centre’s statistics this year.

Croker is ranked 129th in the league for missed tackles with 22, or 1.22 on average per game, and he has played all 18 games.

The 24-year-old has made 247 tackles, many of those in his position one-on-one out wide, at a success rate of almost 92 per cent.

It’s a better strike rate than Canterbury centre Josh Morris (87 per cent), regarded by many as the game’s best defensive centre after shutting down Greg Inglis in State of Origin on a number of occasions.

It’s better than other outside backs such as Rooster Blake Ferguson (78 per cent), Tiger Kevin Naiqama (86 per cent), Blake Ayshford (89 per cent), Bulldog Sam Perrett (75 per cent), Panther Waqa Blake (83 per cent), Shark Jack Bird (89 per cent), Tiger David Nofoaluma (82 per cent) and even Storm’s Queensland Origin centre Will Chambers (84 per cent).

Croker’s improved defensive reads were on show in Saturday’s golden-point win over New Zealand Warriors.

On several occasions, particularly in the first half when the Warriors pounded Canberra’s try-line, Croker left his man to help his teammates shut down back-rower Bunty Afoa.

“The consistency Jarrod has shown this year, the aggression he’s got in his defence. [Croker] gets blamed for a lot of errors in defence where it’s not all his fault … Jarrod’s defence has been so strong all season,” Stuart said.

“But his consistency with every part of his game comes from the way he works off the field. I’m sure he’d be embarrassed by me saying this, but I’m really happy he’s getting that mention and accolade because he deserves it.”

Hooker Josh Hodgson said Croker’s best-on-ground performance showed his leadership skills are growing in his second year as captain.

“I thought it was a massive captain’s performance for him, he was fantastic,” Hodgson said.

“His influence on that game was massive and for a skipper to put his hand up and have a game like he did is a big rap for him.

“He’s growing [as a captain] and he’s learning all the time, we [fellow leaders] are doing bits here and there to help him as well.”

According to Fox Sports stats the Raiders left edge that Croker helps patrol is their most reliable defensive unit in terms of tries scored.

The left edge, normally Edrick Lee, Croker, Josh Papalii and Aidan Sezer, has leaked 18 four-pointers, while 23 have been conceded through the middle third and right edge.

But Croker’s ability to rack up points at a potential record-breaking rate has never been disputed.

His 18-point haul against New Zealand has put him well clear atop this year’s point-scoring table, just two points away from scoring 200 for the third consecutive year.

Croker almost foresaw his match-winning try on golden-point during an interview on match-day eve.

The Warriors and Raiders have featured in several extra-time thrillers this year, and Croker was asked if golden-point should be abolished.

“I’d rather see it resolved, personally,” Croker said.

“Playing that draw at Newcastle [after golden-point] at the start of the year [in round three], I know both sides had an empty feeling.

“I’d much rather see an attempt at a result but it makes it hard when it become a field goal-a-thon as well.

“Maybe [it should be] golden try or just extra-time in general, I don’t know the exact answer.

“We can’t scrap it completely.”

NRL ROUND 20

Sunday: South Sydney Rabbitohs v Canberra Raiders at ANZ Stadium, 2pm. TV: Live on Fox Sports 1.

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