Members of the Goulburn Junior Stockmen were thrilled last night when Canberra Raiders captain Jarrod Croker and forward Hudson Young paid them a visit.
The pair spent over an hour among Goulburn's youngest and most enthusiastic league fans at North Park, signing autographs and posing for photos.
"The kids were just excited," Stockmen president Matt Cowling said.
"They were getting them to sign their foreheads and their arms, and Jarrod said some of them were coming up with 50 cent pieces. He was signing everything."
Such visits are often an annual fixture, organised by the Raiders to maintain contact with regional clubs and help foster enthusiasm for the sport among young players.
It is also a chance for Croker, who was born and raised in Goulburn, to reconnect with his club of origin.
"Everyone knows where Jarrod came from, and he's just a great bloke for the sport, to be honest," Cowling said.
"It is a big thing for the kids to see where these blokes have gotten to and how idolised they are. Hopefully one day we can get a couple more from our club to play [for the Raiders], that'd be great."
Both players took time to chat with the kids and their parents during the event, but what impressed Cowling the most was their willingness to stick around even after they were scheduled to leave.
"They went above and beyond," he said.
"After it was over, they were standing there and kids were still coming up asking for photos, and they were happy to do it."
Croker, now 30, has long been a fixture at the Raiders, with 284 games and more than 2,100 points scored since his debut for the club in 2009.
He was made captain in December of 2014 and has since led Canberra to three finals campaigns, including the infamous 2019 grand final against the Sydney Roosters.
Young, meanwhile, is just 22 and in the midst of his third season with the Raiders, with 40 appearances to his name.
The Raiders will next take on the Brisbane Broncos this Saturday, June 12, at Canberra Stadium.
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