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Canberra?s most decorated player, Jason Croker, has been appointed Raiders club captain for season 2005.
On track to become the first Raiders player to break the 300 game milestone, Croker takes over the club captaincy from outgoing forward Ruben Wiki.
Simon Woolford remains first grade captain and Raiders coach Matt Elliott said Croker?s new role would allow the pair to share some responsibilities.
?The club captain acts as a mentor to the whole playing staff, from the first grade team to the under 16s,? Elliott said.
?Jason?s responsibilities will complement Simon?s. Jason has shown great leadership qualities and he?s probably someone who deserves this recognition. He?s our most capped player and he?s right at the top of the honour roll in the organisation.
?He?s been here through good and tough times and he?ll be able to reflect on all of those. He takes responsibility for his actions and I think that?ll make him a perfect role model for the organisation.?
Elliott has encouraged senior players in his squad to take leadership roles this season. Woolford and Croker were among six Raiders who took part in a leadership course today. The others were Clinton Schifcofske, Ian Hindmarsh, Ryan O?Hara and Michael Weyman.
?We have a leadership group now and I expect other players to take on greater responsibility, particularly when we?ve got so many new players here,? Elliott said.
Croker, 31, is about to play his 15th season of first grade with the Raiders. He said the club?s recruitment for 2005 had been refreshing.
?We?re better off this year than we were [in pre-season] last year,? Croker said. ?The new guys around keep you young and on your toes. Everyone?s digging deep in pre-season training.?
Croker is well on the way to joining an elite group of six players who have contested 300 first grade games in Australian rugby league history. Only four players ? Andrew Ettingshausen (328 games for Cronulla), Cliff Lyons (309 games for Manly), Greg Florimo (285 for North Sydney) and Luke Ricketson (280 games for Roosters) ? have played more games than Croker at one club.
Croker, 274 games, still has two years left to run on his contract at the Raiders.
?I?ve been here nearly half my life so this is my home,? Croker said. ?The Raiders have been good to me and I still enjoy being here every day.
?I just feel young at the moment. I?m enjoying the game - it?s all good.?
JASON CROKER DOB: 10 March, 1973, in Crookwell, NSW Position: Lock / utility Height: 181cm Weight: 100kg Junior Club: Crookwell Green Devils Contract with Raiders: end of 2006
Representative: Country Origin 1994, 1996, 2001. Five games for NSW 1993-2001. One Test for Australia 2000. Previous Clubs: Nil
FG Debut: Raiders v Broncos, March 31, 1991. Raiders Achievements: Record first grade games: 274 Record tries: 115 (including a club record 22 tries in 1994) Coach?s award: 2004 Players? Player: 2000, 1999, 1998, 1993 Most Consistent 1994, 1992 Rookie of the Year 1991