Crying isn’t something you’d want to do on your NRL debut, unless they’re tears of joy.
But Lachlan Croker had to contain himself after suffering what he thought was a season-ending injury.
The 19-year-old left late in the first half of Saturday’s 21-20 win over the Sydney Roosters, clutching his left shoulder after attempting a tackle on Aida Guerra.
He felt it pop out, then back in once he rolled over.
Croker, nephew of club great Jason and under-20s skipper, had surgery on the same shoulder last year.
“I was about to start crying to be honest with you,” he told AAP.
“It scared me. I thought I was done.
“I just kept thinking of the rehab and going through it all over again after only playing two games.
“For two years before that, I’d only played nine games (because of injury). So to do it again, I don’t know what I would’ve done.”
Croker was given the ok to return but coach Ricky Stuart kept him off to save an interchange for his forwards.
He reckons he should be fit to play Newcastle next week if picked.
The boy from Crookwell, NSW, instead had to watch from the sidelines as his replacement in the No.6 role, hooker Josh Hodgson, kicked a 40-20 and halves partner Sam Williams booted the winning field goal.
“Obviously it’s good to get the win, but it’s different sitting on the bench and knowing you weren’t out there playing your part,” he said.
“But I’m stoked for the boys and stoked to win my first game, so nothing will dampen that.”
Croker was handed his debut after injuries to stars Blake Austin (knee) and Aidan Sezer (eye socket) in their season-opening win over Penrith, to play at five-eighth alongside Williams.
He has been training with the Raiders for a while, including in partnership with Williams, especially this past pre-season with Austin and Sezer in rehab following shoulder surgeries.
“Sammy’s the calmest head I’ve ever had on a football field,” he said.
“It’s something he’s known for and something he should be known for because he’s next level.”