True Blue Stephen Crichton doesn’t yet know where he will be in the Canterbury-Bankstown back line when the Bulldogs open their 2024 NRL campaign against the Parramatta Eels in Round One.
The 23-year-old is adept at fullback, centre and wing playing all three positions at various times in the five seasons he had at the Penrith Panthers, before joining the Bulldogs.
“Not yet. My main role for this pre-season is just to get as fit as I can, the best I can get myself, so whatever position I fall into I can nail my job for the team,” Crichton told media in his first interview at the Belmore club.
“I don’t really have a position just yet and I’ve not really spoken to (coach) Ciraldo about that stuff as well. I’ve just got to put my best foot forward and show what I have to offer.
“I like playing fullback, like playing centre, playing wing. I just need to train the best I can so when Ciraldo picks the team he can pick the best he can think of to put on the field.
“Wherever I play I’ll be pretty happy with that.”
Crichton was at centre in five of the six games he played for the Westpac NSW Blues across 2022-2023.
He is keen to impress no matter where he plays against the Eels on Saturday 9 March, arriving at Bulldogs pre-season training earlier than expected after Pacific Championships duties with Samoa.
“I didn’t want to come in the New Year and not know anyone,” he said.
“I wanted to come early and show everyone what I’m really about, like building those combinations.
“I think the best way to do that is coming back early and show the boys I’m just as motivated now as I was back in Penrith.”
Six of Crichton’s eight games for Samoa have also been at centre – two at five-eighth, but he’s made no secret of the fact he gained a lot of fullback knowledge learning off Panthers No.1 Dylan Edwards.
“I’m probably more experienced now (at fullback) than the first time I played. Just learning how to play the position properly and being alongside one of the best fullbacks in Dylan – I picked his brains.”
Away from football, Crichton became engaged to partner Leone Lauitia after Penrith secured their third-consecutive NRL premiership.
“I was more nervous for that than I was for the Grand Final, probably not nervous asking her but asking her parents,” he said.
But now he can concentrate on getting to know his new club.
“The boys here are heaps welcoming which made it easier for myself. I’ll now try to build those relationships and get to know the system here.
“Having Burto (Matt Burton) and Kiks (Viliame Kikau) here has definitely made it a bit easier.”