While most people know of Jarrod Croker's numerous on-field achievements during his time with the Canberra Raiders, fewer are aware of how much work he does off the field.
However, a limelight was shone on the Goulburn native's extensive good work with local communities after he was named a nominee for the Ken Stephen Medal last week.
The medal, now in its 33rd year, recognises NRL players who dedicate themselves to charity work, youth development, or community support.
Croker was nominated by the Raiders not for a single piece of work, but his his commitment to a wide range of causes such as the Terry Campese Foundation, the Ricky Stuart Foundation, the NRL League Stars Inspire Program, the club-initiated schools wellbeing program INSPIRE, and $100 per point for each goal he kicked that was donated to the Homes for Homes community project, which works to combat local homelessness.
Additionally, Croker also supports fans directly through regular visits to junior clubs, and even records personalised birthday messages.
Stockmen president, Matt Cowling, was unsurprised by Croker's nomination for the medal.
"Jarrod's always really good with the kids, he's the first to give autographs, and always gives his headgear out after the game," Cowling said.
"He's a nice bloke who doesn't forget where he comes from. We had a day a few weeks ago where Jarrod and Hudson Young came down and they were unbelievable.
"Kids were coming up after the time was over looking for autographs and nothing was a hassle. He just smiled and did what he had to do, it was unbelievable. I think that's why he was nominated, he's a really good bloke and the kids love him."
Four finalists will be selected from the list of nominees, three of whom will be chosen by a committee.
The fourth will be voted into the finals by the community, and this player will also earn $3,500 for their junior club.
"Any money we could put back into the kids, it might be some merchandise or might be looking at a grandstand or some seating that we have in the pipeline, that'd really help us out," Cowling said.
"Probably the first thing we have to do is buy Jarrod a beer though."
ClubsNSW chairman, Dr George Peponis OAM, praised all the nominees for their work within their communities over the last 12 months.
"The NRL players nominated for this medal have not only achieved success on the field, they have also managed to find time off the field to support a variety of worthy community initiatives - a purpose that these individuals and clubs have in common," Dr Peponis said.
"Congratulations to all the nominees. You are all winners in the eyes of the community, and we sincerely appreciate and admire your hard work and dedication."
Those wishing to vote can do so by visiting this link. The polls close on Sunday, August 8, and the finalists will be announced during the NRL finals series.
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