Jarrod Croker of the Raiders celebrates his team win against the Panthers during the round 20 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders at Centrebet Stadium in Sydney on Sunday, July 26, 2015.
Jarrod Croker of the Raiders celebrates his team win against the Panthers during the round 20 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders at Centrebet Stadium in Sydney on Sunday, July 26, 2015. AAP Image - Paul Miller

Bennett gives some early aid to NSW Origin selectors

WORLD All Stars-winning coach Wayne Bennett has thrown New South Wales Origin selectors an early tip - pick Jarrod Croker in your side.

Widely regarded as the most under-rated centre in the NRL, Croker served up a wonderful flick pass for the World All Stars' opening try on Saturday night, and then scored one himself.

The Canberra Raiders skipper also did an excellent job of shutting down the game's fastest man, James Roberts.

"If I was the picking the NSW side he (Croker) would be the first player I'd pick. I love him," Bennett said.

"I love what he brings - he's consistently very good every year for Canberra."

Indigenous All Stars coach Laurie Daley, who will lead the Blues again in this year's Origin series, said selectors would most likely be loyal to the incumbent players, although after Queensland belted NSW by a record 52-6 score line in game three last year, changes could be in the wind.

Croker wasn't keen to talk himself up, or buy into Origin selection talk when told of Bennett's post-game compliment.

"He's generous. That's nice, but he's a Queenslander," smiled Croker.

"It's a nice endorsement from one of the greatest coaches of the game. It's very nice of Wayne and a bit humbling.

"My focus is going back to the Raiders and playing good footy.

"We've got blokes down there that can get picked in rep sides.

"I'd love to as well, there's nobody in the NRL who doesn't want to play Origin."

Apart from the All Stars clash, several trial games were played at the weekend.

Former Rabbitoh Issac Luke made his debut for the Warriors in a 22-point win over a second-string Titans side, Penrith finished all over the Bulldogs to win their trial 24-20 as Matt Moylan auditioned for the Panther's No.6 jumper, and Wests Tigers snuck home 18-16 in a trial against a largely reserve-grade Melbourne Storm line-up on the Sunshine Coast.


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