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Lachlan Croker

Lachlan Croker is happy to bide his time as Manly's utility but coming off the bench isn't part of his long-term vision.

After making a successful return from a third ACL reconstruction last season, Croker was restricted to three games in a back-up role for coach Des Hasler after picking up a hamstring injury in round eight.

Prior to that he impressed with a two-try effort against his former club Canberra.

Croker's pathway to partner Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves in 2020 is clouded with Dylan Walker's positional switch and the emergence of Cade Cust.

"I'm not sure where I'll be yet, Dessie keeps things close to his chest so I'm sure we'll find out soon," Croker told NRL.com.

"My pre-season has been a little bit different changing around in different roles. There's some good talent around so I have to wait for my opportunity.

Soward's Say: 2020 Sea Eagles

"At the moment all I want to do is be part of the team but long term I want to be in the halves and Dessie knows that.

"It's a conversation that we've had but for now I'll do anything the team needs. I'm more than happy to play that role but long-term I'm a half and that's what I want to do."

Croker started in the halves in Manly's only pre-season trial against Cronulla last weekend before moving to hooker late as Knights recruit Danny Levi was brought from the field.

Sea Eagles' top 5 tries of 2019

It's a role the 23-year-old is happy to play temporarily but conceded his experience packing into the scrum was limited and can be a difficult task to adjust to. 

"Danny's an out and out hooker so you're not looking in the scrum base and seeing someone like Custy or myself and wondering if we actually know what we're doing," Croker said.

"He's been playing it for years, he brings a lot of confidence and has a good running game. Off the back of our middles he'll be hard to stop.

"If I can do something similar or keep the momentum going I'll be happy to work around that for the team."

The Sea Eagles go into the 2020 season as a team predicted to do well.

It was a bleak contrast 12 months earlier when the club slumped to 15th on the ladder under former coach Trent Barrett.

Levi believes Hasler will take him to another level

"The guys we had in the team the year before, you wondered why they were never playing top four footy," Croker said.

"You look at the team on paper and know you're playing a good footy team. I think the year before we struggled to grasp that but last year we managed to handle that and it all came together.

"We looked at things more in depth and it helped coming off a poor season. It was a wake-up call to get to round 12 and you're not talking about the finals – it's a tough thing to cop."