For the second time in his career, Canberra skipper Jarrod Croker will finish the NRL season as the league’s highest pointscorer after tallying a 16-point haul in the final round of the year.
The goalkicking ace bagged a pair of tries and kicked four goals from five attempts – including a sideline conversion to send the game into golden point – in his side’s dramatic 28-24 win over the Eels, overtaking Sydney Roosters James Maloney to end the year on 236 points.
It is the second time the 24-year-old has landed the pointscoring title after totalling 226 points in 2012.
Raiders coach Ricky Stuart said Croker deserved to finish the season as the game’s premier pointscorer.
“I tell Jarrod I never take it for granted what he does, I appreciate having a goal-kicker and a footballer such as Jarrod as captain,” he said.
“He thoroughly deserves winning the point-scoring award for the season but nobody sees the effort he puts in behind the scenes.
“Nobody sees the hard work he puts in and the hours and hours of preparation and the work he does with Darryl Halligan, who has to be also thanked.
“His attitude and work ethic shows young kids what you can do if you work hard.”
Despite missing an easy penalty shot and bombing two tries in the first half against the Eels, Croker delivered in the clutch, scoring twice in seven minutes and showing extreme composure to land a sideline conversion after the siren and force the extra period.
A humble Croker brushed off his late-game heroics, saying he simply wanted to enjoy the last few minutes with departing teammates David Shillington and Mitch Cornish.
“I was pretty relaxed (when taking the kick),” he said.
“We had big Shillo and Mitchy Cornish there leaving the club so I just said, ‘let’s just enjoy it for them. They deserve it.’
“And we just hung in there. We’ve hung in there all year and it hasn’t come our way sometimes and we hung in there again and it’s just good to get one back.”