Canberra coach Ricky Stuart says he doesn’t understand why Jarrod Croker hasn’t rated serious mention as a contender for NSW State of Origin.
The Raiders skipper has been widely criticised for his defensive game but has improved markedly in 2016, according to Stuart.
He has enjoyed one of his best seasons this year, and inspired his side to a 26-22 victory over the Warriors in golden point on Saturday to push them into the top four.
Croker scored three tries, including the match-winning effort 90 seconds into extra time, had one try-assist plus five tackle busts and two line breaks.
“He’s got no greater supporter than myself,” Stuart said.
“I don’t understand why, outside of being picked, his name is not even mentioned (given) the consistency Jarrod has shown this year, the aggression he’s got in his defence.”
The former Blues coach said his star centre gets blamed for a lot of the Raiders’ errors in defence, but insisted it was not all his fault.
“Jarrod’s defence has been so strong all season,” he said.
“There’s other centres in the game that are missing tackles.
“There’s tries scored down those edges but that happens. He’s in an isolated position and a very tough position to defend but his consistency with every part of the game comes from the way he works off the field.
“I’m really happy.”
Croker said he paid little attention to his critics or those talking up his chances of a Blues call-up.
“I’m only worried about the people around me and the people in the club,” he said.
“I don’t buy into too much outside of that.
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, I’m just happy to do my job and try and help the boys around me do their job.”