Why Ricky Stuart told Jarrod Croker to retire ahead of Canberra Raiders legend's 300th NRL match
Jarrod Croker will go down in history as a Canberra Raiders champion and join the elite 300-game NRL club, but coach Ricky Stuart has revealed he tried to prematurely draw the curtains on the Green Machine icon.
Croker will line up for his 300th match against the New Zealand Warriors today at 6pm after Stuart rested the star centre to ensure he would reach the milestone at home in front of family and friends at GIO Stadium.
He will become just the 48th NRL player to reach the milestone, just the 18th player to achieve it with a single club and only the second Raiders player to reach 300 games.
It will be a memorable experience for all involved, but it could have been very different after a sobering moment during the isolation of Covid two years ago.
Croker's body had been bashed, including shoulder reconstructions, cartilage problems in his knee and issues with his Achilles that almost robbed him of his superstar qualities.
Stuart, one of the most senior coaches in the NRL, had seen this movie before.