Jon Tuxworth April 13, 2012
Jarrod Croker is determined to have a better night with the boot against the Broncos after his 2/7 effort against the Warriors last weekend. Photo: Stuart Walmsley
Canberra Raiders centre Jarrod Croker is desperate to "redeem himself" and erase the demons of last week's horror goalkicking performance in front of a hostile Brisbane crowd tonight.
After booting just two from seven attempts in last week's win over the Warriors, Croker had a crash course with goalkicking guru Daryl Halligan yesterday in an attempt to rectify his technical flaws.
Before the Warriors game Croker was kicking at a highly respectable 81 per cent, but that has since nosedived to 65 per cent after his case of the 'yips' last week.
However, Croker yesterday declared he is confident of bouncing back immediately against the red-hot Broncos at Suncorp Stadium.
The 21-year-old feels more self-assured after some timely advice from former Bulldogs sharpshooter Halligan.
"It's been more of a technical focus [than mental], if you think about it too much it's just going to play with my head and I've got to put last week behind me," Croker said.
"I've had a look at the video and I've identified a few things I need to work on.
"We have to score tries before I can kick goals, so hopefully we do that and I have a chance to redeem myself."
Croker said he only needs to tweak his approach slightly to return to his normal sharpshooting self.
The Goulburn junior was one of the NRL's most reliable kickers last year, landing 59 from 75 attempts (79 per cent).
Canberra has fought out some close battles against the Broncos in Brisbane in the recent past, including a 25-24 golden-point loss last year.
"I've been working on my exits a bit, I was planting [my non-kicking foot] and not getting through the ball as well as I have been," he said.
"I've worked on that and hopefully it pays off [tonight]."
Halligan, who works regularly with the Raiders' goalkickers, knows Croker's work ethic and desire to improve better than most.
For that reason, he is convinced last week will ultimately prove to be a mere blip on the radar.
"He works really hard, there were a couple of things that went astray for him last week which he's focused harder on this week," Halligan said yesterday.
"He's got an exit he needs to work on that we have always worked on, but it got a bit more work this week.
"In situations like this that's the type of reaction you're looking for going forward, and we'll see [the results of] that over the next month, I'd imagine.
"[But] there is a mental approach with everyone that's had a poor experience, that's taken into account."
Croker is preparing for the Broncos fans to try and unsettle him early tonight when he lines up his first shot.
But that's a challenge he is looking forward to, not dreading.
"On game day you try and approach it like it's training anyway, but the only time you really have to remind yourself not to think about it is in front of a big crowd," Croker said.
"It's like nothing you've heard before that [Suncorp Stadium] crowd, I'm looking forward to the challenge and hopefully I come up trumps."
Another challenge Croker is priming himself for is the task of marking star Broncos centre Justin Hodges.
Hodges has been one of the NRL's form outside backs so far this season, and Croker knows only his best defensive effort will suffice.
The Broncos will undoubtedly look to give Hodges early ball as often as possible, in an effort to present him with one-on-one chances against Croker.
"He's one of the form centres in the game and it's going to be a big task for me," Croker said.
"I'm going to have to be as good as I can be defensively, it's a massive test.
"He's very strong up top and I'm probably going to have to take the legs a lot, it's not just a one-man job and we have to get up in his face and shut his time down.
"Hopefully our big fellas can get over theirs early on and that will limit their opportunities to spread it to him."