The Roar
The Roar


'I haven’t seen him like this': Why Croker is backing Turbo to top 2021 - by getting out of his way

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
15th March, 2024

Lachlan Croker had a front row seat to one of the all time great seasons, delivering from dummy half as Tom Trbojevic went wild in 2021.

Now, the Manly hooker can see shades of that year again, telling The Roar that he had never seen his injury-plagued fullback in such good shape.

“I don’t want to jinx Turbo but I haven’t seen him like this,” said Croker.

“Even in the 2021 season, the way he’s moving and how confident he is to run fast – you see how fit he is and how big his body is.

“It takes a lot to tackle. The way he moves around the field and how much he touches the ball is exciting for us, and hopefully there’s a few times where he’s running 40m and I’m just walking back to halfway celebrating.”

And just like that year, the spine is stacked in such a way that the hardest part of dummy half’s job is keeping everyone on side, with three dominant voices screaming for the footy at all times.

In 2021, it was Kieran Foran, but now Luke Brooks has joined along with Daly Cherry-Evans and Trbojevic.


“Those two and Turbo are three extremely good players,” said Croker.

“They’re all going to want the ball at the same time, so it’s a balancing act of who gets it when.

“Trying to find the right time to go to Brooksy, Chez or Turbo in the back of shape is the thing that we’re going to have to work the most on.

“You saw how well Brooksy played carrying the ball (in Las Vegas), obviously Chez does what he always does and the way that Turbo played is exciting for us as a team and for the year. It’s only going to get better.

“It was the same when Fozzy (Kieran Foran) was here, he always wanted the ball. I’m used to it.


“That’s the way they play their footy and it’s a very good attribute to have, especially as a hooker because you know they’re always going to have shape ready and be ready to play.

“Having those two guys either side of me, plus Turbo in the middle makes it easy because they always want it, but it’s on me to choose who gets it at the right time.

“If I pass to Chez, Brooksy gives it to me and if I pass to Brooksy, Chez gives it to me so I don’t win either way.”

Croker’s direction was at the centre of the the Vegas victory over South Sydney, notably in spotting up defenders and picking shortsides, which lead to four of the Sea Eagles’ six tries at Allegiant Stadium.

Asked whether it was a function of the smaller pitch – dummying to go open, then opting for short – Croker answered that it was more a case of playing heads up, particularly when Brooks is about, and that it was a tactic that Manly would be looking to roll out again.

“It wasn’t something that we saw in Vegas, but I think shortsides are something that Brooksy is really good at,” he said.

“Chez is good there too, so they both love taking that. With middles defending on shortsides, it’s something they’re not used to and it’s something that those guys ID a lot.


“That’s the easy part of my job – they’re real close and you can hear what they’re saying. Normally they’re really clear on where they want it.

“It’s something that, throughout the year, we’re going to stick with. With how fast Broosky is – you could see it in the try he scored – it’s what the year will look like.”

As far as he was concerned, it was the hooker’s job to distribute and strategise, keeping the tempo and then letting the rest of the spine make the magic happen.

Even though they’re in his ear, he said, it was always preferable for it to be that way than when players don’t want the ball.

“For myself personally, it’s deciding the times not to go to them and to play to our middle, not trying to score points all the time,” said Croker.

“That’s the tough bit for us hookers. It’s never an issue when people want the ball. It’s when they don’t that you have a problem.