TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 28: Jarrod Croker of the Raiders looks on during the round eight NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Canberra Raiders at 1300SMILES Stadium on April 28, 2018 in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Canberra captain Jarrod Croker has opened up on the off-season surgery that left him unable to even walk up stairs.

The veteran centre has faced ongoing setbacks across the course of the past two seasons, having undergone operations on his shoulder and more recently his knee.

Following his 13th season with the Raiders, Croker underwent stem-cell surgery last October in hope of prolonging his 291-game career in the nation's capital.

The surgery meant Croker would endure short term pain in hope of extending his career in the NRL, with the Goulburn product detailing the extent of his battle in an interview with Fox Sports. 

“Some days I couldn’t even walk up the stairs. It was just that sore,” Croker said.

“Some nights it was just throbbing in bed and other days it was okay, it was bearable but it just got worse and worse.

“It got to the point at the back end of the year where the body was copping it a fair bit and we made the decision where we need to do something bigger about this.

“For the longevity of my career and anything for life after footy, this was probably the best option so we decided to go down this path.”

Despite the initial limitations, Croker revealed he is progressing well and returning to the best he has felt in recent years ahead of the 2022 season.

With Croker currently contracted for three years with the Green Machine, the Raiders stalwart remains hopeful his body can last until the end of his deal.

“At the moment it’s ticking along nicely, it has its days but I’m doing things I couldn’t do in the last two years, which is a start,” Croker said.

“Whether that’s good enough to get through a season of NRL and three more seasons of NRL, well we’re not going to know until we try it.”

Should Croker be deemed medically unfit to feature in the NRL, forced retirement could be what spells the end for his decorated tenure with Canberra. However, the seasoned Raider hasn't given any thought to calling time on his career just yet.

“There’s obviously private conversations with doctors and physios and everything like that... but (medical retirement) is not something in my mind at all," Croker said.

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MAY 18: Jarrod Croker of the Raiders is tackled during the round 10 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at GIO Stadium on May 18, 2019 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“I just wanted to give this a red-hot crack and all I can say on top of that is it’s definitely done something, how much that is, we’ll have to wait and see.”

Croker remains unclear on his returning timeline, with a delayed pre-season potentially halting a start to his 2022 campaign.

The Raiders are scheduled to take on Cronulla at GIO Stadium on Friday, March 11 to begin their new year.