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Blood and sweat all worth it for Lachlan Croker

Lachlan Croker stood inside the gigantic home dressing room of Allegiant Stadium just taking it all in.

Minutes earlier, the Manly hooker and his team-mates sang with great joy the Sea Eagles victory song for the first time in season 2024 after taking care of South Sydney in the historic season opener in Las Vegas.

Wearing his cherished number nine jersey and displaying some old, and fresh, battle scars on his forehead, Croker looked every bit like the man who again gave his all in his first match of 2024.

“This is the best bit about footy. Sitting in a jersey, covered in blood and sweat, and having a beer with your mates,’’ Croker reflected.

“It’s the reason why I will keep playing footy and keep playing the way I play.”

With Americans witnessing rugby league for the first time, many would have admired Croker’s courage as he took on, and brought down, some much bigger men than him.

And as he does every week, Croker rated highly in the tackle count and even crossed for a try in front of over 40,000 fans in a stadium nick-named ‘The Death Star’.

“It’s hard to put into words. Sitting on the bench there towards the end, I sort of took a few minutes to look around and feel the atmosphere in this joint,’’ Croker admitted.

“I looked up at the roof and you could see and hear the noise, it was obviously something that we have never experienced before at a stadium like this back home.

“To perform the way we did and to celebrate it in the change room makes it all worth it. 

“Right now, it’s hard to go past thinking it’s the best job in the world.”

Croker also had a large cheer squad there, who would have found their voice, too, when the boy from the Crookwell Green Devils darted over to score a classic dummy half try.

“It’s crazy, it makes my eyes water and gives me tingles thinking about it,’’ Croker reflected.

“Seeing my family here before captain’s run and having them around made it special. I know how much they love watching me play. I’m so grateful.

“My partner’s family and also a lot of friends from back home made the trip. I’ve been really lucky my whole career with the support they have given me.

“These kind of nights, and thinking about them before the game, just makes it all worthwhile.”

The Sea Eagles return to training today after freshening up from their trip back from Las Vegas ahead of next Sunday's blockbuster clash at 4 Pines Park against fellow Vegas winners, the Sydney Roosters.


Acknowledgement of Country

Manly Warringah Sea Eagles respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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