I do agree with your points above.croker is close to my favourite player. gutsy, loves playing footy and is in everything .almost first player picked, captain candidate in the future IMO but not a real good 9. he fulfils the basics but his inability to really engage the defence on a regular basis before service is costly
my perspective is that with frog at 9 that leaves manly with 2 spine positions suffering from major role deficiencies, as opposed to footy ability and skills. in recent seasons the spine has struggled to straighten and focus our attack with tom being the notable exception.
trying to patch these roles has had our team unbalanced and in all sorts and affects jakes game and opportunity to play up front
The lack of real threat in and around the ruck areas allows the defence to read and adjust quite easily
again unless we have tommy, but we need to be turning the ball inside or outside to tom not waiting for him to bust the line and turn it back
However, I do wonder if he was told to play a certain way by Des. We all know Des preferred his 9 to be a good defender and really just a guy to pass the ball from dummy half.
Croker as we know is a former half so it would surprise me if he couldn't engage the line more.
Let's see what happens next year.