Talking with Jarrod Croker the criminally underrated Raiders legend

Jarrod Croker is undoubtedly one of the game's greatest enigmas, with the 29-year-old Canberra Raiders captain considered by many to be criminally underrated.

Already with 265 games, 128 tries, 767 goals and 2046 points to his name in his 12-year career in the lime green, Croker should be remembered as one the game's elite players and a Raiders legend when he decides to hang up the boots - statistically, at least.

He's already the Raiders' all-time leading try scorer and is on track to become the club's most-capped player when he surpasses the great Jason Croker (318 games).

At his current trajectory, the Canberra centre is also on pace to overtake Cameron Smith as the NRL's all-time leading point scorer.

And yet, Croker is yet to taste NSW or Australian representative honours and may well never get the chance to do so.

With his scoring prowess speaking for itself, he's turned his focus toward the defensive side of the game, for which he's received criticism aplenty.

"I still cop it," Croker laughed when speaking to the Talking with TK podcast, "but I believe I've improved.

"A lot of it is game awareness and concentration to be honest... I've never doubted my ability to tackle.

"It's the decision making and making it for 80 minutes and for 26 rounds of the year.

"It's being able to come up with the right decision as much as possible and not make the wrong one."

Ever the humble leader, Croker credits much of his defensive improvements on the talent that surrounds him.

"Having Elliott Whitehead as the four-man inside me - the backrower - and certainly Jack Wighton [has helped].

"Having him defend next to you makes the world of difference... he just hits like a front-rower, he just hammers blokes.

Croker is undoubtedly held in high regard by the Raiders and is heralded for his leadership abilities, having captained the Canberra side since 2014 and taking home Dally M Captain of the Year honours in 2016.

He insists, however, that longtime coach and Raiders legend Ricky Stuart deserves a great deal of praise for his success in that regard.

"He's the one who threw faith in me as a 24-year-old to be a captain," he said.

"We're still doing leadership work - we've got a leadership coach who comes in now and he's been with us for the past 18 months.

"But there's been a lot of people [to influence my leadership] so I can't really narrow it down to one.

"I'm still learning as a leader, and for someone like 'Sticky' to still want to be learning as a coach, it shows how much I've still got to be learning as a leader."

Given everything he has achieved to date - and all that he is a near certainty to achieve in the future - Croker's attitude towards football will ensure he reaches great things before his career's close.

Regardless of whether he does get the chance to pull on the famous sky blue jersey of NSW, he will certainly leave behind an incredible legacy with the Raiders and indeed the NRL.