Croker moved on from ‘young and dumb’ days

Six years is a long time in rugby league.

But as much as Jarrod Croker has tried to forget that fateful missed kick in 2010, there’s one group that won’t let him live it down.

“Every Wests Tigers game I still cop a real hiding,” the Canberra skipper smiles.

“But that’s part of it. It’s all good fun.”

Croker was left shattered after he failed to slot that late penalty goal almost in front of the sticks in the Raiders’ 26-24 semi-final loss to the Tigers.

It denied them any chance of forcing golden point and a shot at their first premiership in more than 15 years.

“I was just young and dumb back then,” he told AAP on Tuesday.

“It obviously affected me at the time.

“But I’ve had plenty of good kicks and plenty of bad kicks since. It’s just part of the trade I suppose.”

Then coach David Furner insisted Croker was not to blame for the defeat at the time and predicted the 20-year-old “kid” would be stronger for the experience.

Co-captain Terry Campese, who handed over goalkicking duties to Croker mid-season, was just as supportive.

“I think he’s a great young player and he can definitely go forward,” he said.

Fast forward to 2016 and Croker stands as the NRL’s leading goalkicker and pointscorer.

He has set two new club records this year – for most points in a season and total points scored, surpassing Furner’s mark in July.

He is the longest-serving player in the current Raiders squad and the only one from 2010 that will line up against Penrith in Saturday’s sudden death semi-final at GIO Stadium.

The 26-year-old is hoping it will be third-time lucky, having missed Canberra’s last semi with a broken jaw in 2012 – when they lost to South Sydney.

“That was four years ago – there’s been plenty more tough times between then and now,” he said.

“I’m enjoying the year we’ve had so far and looking forward to this weekend.

“It’s just exciting to be where we are and I’m excited to see the guys around me that are playing such good footy.”

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