Two different teams will clash this week: Croker
It will be the second week in a row that the Canberra Raiders have clashed with the Cronulla Sharks, when the two teams meet at Canberra Stadium in an elimination final on Saturday night.
But captain Jarrod Croker says that his team will take virtually nothing from last weekend's 38-28 win over the Sharks in Sydney - after both clubs rested a significant number of players from the final round of the regular season.
The Raiders have brought back nine players into their top 17 for Week 1 of the finals campaign, while the Sharks have seven returning.
"It's two different teams," Croker said today.
"The Sharks rested a lot of players and I think people have forgotten about that. They had some big guns out as well."
"Two news teams and a finals series. I certainly haven't looked at anything from last weekend and the boys that did play can take a few things out of that for their own performance."
The Raiders are warm favourites in this weekend's clash, but Croker knows that the Sharks will be a tough opponent.
"They've got some big name players and some of those blokes didn't play last week," he said.
"Duges [Josh Dugan], Jesse Ramien, Chad Townsend is back in the side, Wade Graham will be better for the experience [of returning last week] and better off in the back row, and Andrew Fifita is a big game player."
"Those blokes are just hard blokes to tackle. They've got a lot of powerful outside backs especially, wingers and centres."
"[They] can create a bit of second phase and a bit of ad lib footy if we don't start well and end our sets well. That's how we want to start the game and I think the start is massive."
"I think 10,000 there tomorrow night will help us start well. And if we can start well and get into that arm wrestle, we'll be better for the back end."
Croker says the build up to the finals is not quite the same this year, but he's relishing the prospect of warmer weather and a bigger crowd this weekend. Regardless, he says "the boys are ready".
"It's obviously a little bit different, with the way life is at the moment with COVID and the bubble. It's a little bit of a different feeling," he said.
"It's hard to get out in the community. We know there's a lot of support out there, but you don't feel it as much being in the bubble. So it's a little bit of a different feeling."
"But once we get there tomorrow night, with 10,000 fans there as opposed to what we've had, 3,000 at home. It'll feel like 50,000 there tomorrow night."
"Once we get there tomorrow night, and get amongst it all, I'm sure the boys will start to feel it."
Croker believes that the experience of making the Grand Final in 2019 will help his team this year at the business end of the season.
"It's certainly less daunting. We've been there and played a lot of big games. We know how to prepare. That's the big thing, is preparation," Croker said.
"I think we've prepared really well so far. We obviously had a finals series last year to fall back on and to use.
"I think the boys have prepared well, it's about executing now.
This year, the Raiders are playing in back to back finals campaigns for the first time since 2004. Between 2004 and 2012, they were in the finals one year, and then out the next. Then, between 2013 and 2018, the Raiders played in the finals just once - in 2016.
"It's the first time in a long time we've been in back to back series, Croker said.
"Hopefully, going forward, it's a a thing for the next three or four or five years. We want to be a strong club and continue the culture that we've built here."
A report for The Greenhouse
VIDEO: Croker ready for finals atmosphere: https://www.raiders.com.au/news/2020/10 ... mosphere2/
Canberra Raiders find belief amid injury toll
It was during the depth of one of the NRL's worst injury crises of the season when the belief returned to Canberra.
"We had a short turnaround into the Thursday night game against the Roosters at the SCG," captain Jarrod Croker said. "And they had won 10 in a row there. We didn't need to say anything to each other. We just naturally came together and rallied together.
Read more: https://7news.com.au/sport/rugby-league ... -c-1359522
Cronlla Sharks happy to be finals underdogs: https://7news.com.au/sport/rugby-league ... -c-1359652
GALLERY: Captain's Run: Raiders v Sharks: https://www.raiders.com.au/news/2020/10 ... -v-sharks/
Set of six: Raiders v Sharks: https://www.raiders.com.au/news/2020/10 ... -v-sharks/