Canberra centre Jarrod Croker says their NRL home match against an injury-hit Cowboys side that’s missing its four Origin stars is a “must win game”.
Canberra’s crisis yardstick will be on full display come Sunday when they host an injury-hit North Queensland side missing its four Origin stars.
The Cowboys have won just five out of 16 NRL games in the weekend leading up to State of Origin matches since star playmaker Johnathan Thurston first pulled on the Maroons jumper back in 2005.
Not one of those wins has been on the road.
That makes this a make-or-break home game for the embattled Raiders, who are desperately seeking to bounce back from three straight losses under frustrated new coach Ricky Stuart.
The Cowboys will be without Thurston, Brent Tate, Matthew Scott and James Tamou due to Origin, while back-rower Gavin Cooper and interchange hooker Cameron King are also out with long term injuries.
Raiders centre Jarrod Croker said while the Cowboys would be missing some serious strike power without “world’s best player” Thurston, they’d make up for that in youth and enthusiasm.
“It’s a must win game, regardless of who they’ve got in their team,” Croker said.
“There’s going to be some fresh faces coming in that haven’t been playing and they’ll be wanting to prove their worth.”
It’s been a tumultuous month for the 15th placed Raiders.
Stuart was fined $10,000 during the week for his potty mouthed spray at the referees after the Penrith loss, while the week before star fullback Anthony Milford confirmed he’d be leaving for Brisbane in 2015.
Not to mention the fact they’ve leaked 134 points in their past three starts.
Croker admitted his side’s current form would give the Cowboys extra confidence during their trip down to Canberra.
“It will probably help them coming into the game knowing we’re not at our best form,” he said.
The Raiders will be without enforcer Josh Papalii due to Origin, while exciting young playmaker Mitch Cornish will make his NRL debut off the bench.