Canberra Raiders coach David Furner admitted he breathed a huge sigh of relief after centre Jarrod Croker was cleared of a serious knee injury during Saturday’s 24-12 win against Penrith.
With Canberra’s outside-back depth already stretched to breaking point, Furner’s heart was in his mouth when Croker limped from the field clutching his left knee in the second half.
However, Croker later dismissed it as ”just a stinger” and should be fine to play against the Wests Tigers at Campbelltown this Saturday.
An injury to another of their speed men is the last thing the Raiders need after in-form winger Edrick Lee was ruled out for three months with a broken arm earlier this week.
NSW centre Blake Ferguson is already unavailable for next week’s away clash with Wests Tigers, and Jack Wighton is likely to shift back from the wing to centres.
Who takes the vacant position on the flanks is unclear, but Furner was relieved Croker has avoided another stint on the sideline.
The 22-year-old missed two matches earlier this year with medial ligament damage in his left knee.
“We’ve already lost a couple of outside backs – I was nervous with Crokes coming off,” Furner said.
“He’s just starting to really get back into form and I was pleased with that news.
“It was more of a jarring effect from what I’ve been told.”
Ferguson also experienced a scare when he copped a knock to his left shoulder in the second half, but finished the game problem-free. Starting from the bench, Raiders prop David Shillington did his chances of retaining his Queensland jersey no harm.
Canberra enforcer Josh Papalii may well be in line for his first Origin game after he starred against Penrith with 143 metres, three tackle breaks and 23 tackles.
Queensland will name their side for Origin II on Monday night, and Papalii received support from teammate Dane Tilse, who was one of Canberra’s best.
“I would be putting him in there. I do think they need a bit of strike and he has really got that in attack and also in defence,” Tilse said. “Maybe they need someone a bit more dynamic to turn it up.
“Shillo will probably go into Origin camp too, so it’s a big test without some of our guys next week.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.