Croker welcomes Raiders' early NRL start

Nov 1, 2017 - 4:12 AM Canberra captain Jarrod Croker believes the Raiders' extended pre-season will give the team extra time to work out what went wrong last NRL season.

Ricky Stuart's side were among the first three teams to begin preparations for the 2018 season on Wednesday after failing to make last season's finals series.

It's a far cry from Canberra return to the training paddock last summer, when they fell one game short of the decider and entered the new year with high expectations.

While most NRL clubs will suffer staggered pre-seasons due to varying World Cup representations, Croker welcomed the long build-up to next year in comparison to last year.

The Raiders have seven players currently away on international duty, however, are likely to have a full compliment on deck by the turn of the new year.

"We trained just as hard last year but one thing we did have to do last year was jam a lot of work into a shorter period of time," Croker said on Wednesday.

"Last year we got the back end of November, a couple of weeks before Christmas and then we had a couple of weeks after Christmas.

"Trial games, All Stars, Nines; this year there's none of that. We're back about three weeks earlier so we've got plenty of time to work on all the stuff we need to work."

He insisted Melbourne were among the best teams to put the past behind them - and encouraged his teammates to do the same.

"I'm sure the Melbourne Storm will go back this year and it'll be back for business for them. No one's thinking about last year. I'm sure the Storm won't be and they won the comp," Croker said.

"Everyone's looking forward."

The Raiders are set to enter the new campaign with a settled roster, with prop Dave Taylor the only notable departure from last season's squad.

Fringe first-graders Erin Clark, Adam Clydsdale, Charlie Gubb are the new faces, while back-up playmaker Sam Williams makes a return to the nation's capital.

"Sammy's like a piece of furniture around here. He's back and again, he'll be fine," Croker said.

"Charlie's a quality first-grade player and he's been around a long time as well. I'm sure he'll fit straight in. We've got a pretty good culture here."

Source: AAP

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