Criticism of referees used to be about the inaccuracy of their decisions, but during the NRL grand final the referees came under spotlight because they arrived at the correct decision.
Canberra co-captain Jarrod Croker is quietly tracking towards NRL legend status as he prepares to notch another milestone against Manly on Sunday.
Croker will captain his 100th game for the Raiders this week and by the time he retires he could own one of the NRL’s more prized records amid a host of impressive stats.
The 28-year-old sits 10th on the NRL’s all-time scorer list with 1816 points and is on track to summit it, surpassing the likes of Andrew Johns (2176), Johnathan Thurston (2222) and leader Cameron Smith (2422).
Croker is one of the sharpest shooters to play the game, with a goal-kicking success rate of 80.72 per cent, third all-time behind James Maloney (81.20 per cent) and Hazem El Masri (81.97 per cent).
The centre has scored 117 tries, crossing on average almost every second game, and 152 will put him inside the all-time top 10.
Only El Masri (342) and Brett Hodgson (308) have scored more points in a season than him (296).
Croker came through the Raiders junior pathways and the Goulburn export made his first grade debut at 18 in 2009.
The one-club man will play his 237th game this week.
Croker should overtake Raiders legend Laurie Daley (244 games) in round 15, while the 318-game club record held by Jason Croker, no relation, appears a health-permitting formality.
He will likely only trail Melbourne captain Smith for the all-time games played record when he hangs up the boots.
Despite being one of the most consistent players in the game, Croker has never been picked to play State of Origin for New South Wales.
But several players have debuted for their state in their 30s and Croker could still wear a Blues jersey.
Croker got his first taste of captaincy at the back end of the 2014 season, before coach Ricky Stuart joined the club and gave him the role fulltime in 2015.
“I was still pretty young then, I was only 24 when that happened and I think I’ve changed a lot, definitely matured a lot,” Croker said.
“You come a long way in four years and that was Ricky’s first year as a coach.
“I feel as though I’ve played my best footy under Stick and he’s really got the best out of me and I still feel like I’m getting better every year.”
Canberra hooker Josh Hodgson praised his co-captain’s service to the club.
“He’s going to break all the records down here, he’s broken a few already and 100 games as captain for your club is a great milestone,” Hodgson said.
“He’s got a lot of years ahead of him too, so I’m sure he’ll make the 200 mark.”
Jarrod Croker’s NRL career stats
– 1816 points (10th all-time behind leader Cameron Smith on 2422)
– 117 tries (equal 47th all-time behind leader Ken Irvine on 212)
– 674 goals (13th all-time behind leader Cameron Smith on 1123)
– 80.72 per cent goal-kicking (third all-time behind leader Hazem El Masri on 81.97 per cent).
– 237 games and in his 11th NRL season (99 games as captain)