Stephen Crichton will be one of three players making their State of Origin debut this Wednesday night. Along with Kotoni Staggs and Ryan Matterson, Crichton will be hoping to make an impact in his first game. The Penrith back will be starting on the interchange bench as he wears the number 14 jersey.
With injuries to both Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic, there were spots in the back-line that needed to be filled. After dominant with the Panthers in the last few years, Crichton was able to finally get a call-up to the Blues team.
“I got a call from Freddy on Saturday, he just called me and I was in the car hitting the church and had mum in the car. It was really special to share that moment with mum,” Crichton said.
“He just called and told me congratulations. Mum was listening over the call through the car (and) just started crying.”
Originally born in Apia, Samoa, Crichton and his family settled into New South Wales when he was still a child. Coming from a big family, footy means everything to them.
He followed in the footsteps of his older brother Christian Crichton who is also in the Panthers squad. Both starting their career for St Marys Saints and playing in the back-line, Stephen has been able to learn plenty from his brother.
“It means a lot to me, especially where I started and [where] my parents started with me and all the siblings. Mum and Dad definitely struggled at the start when we were all little and I’m just truly grateful to get the opportunity and give back and represent my parents as well by playing on the biggest stage.”
This is not the first time Crichton has been apart of the NSW Blues squad but will be the first time he can put the jersey on and play in a State of Origin game.
Crichton has had a dominant year for the Panthers so far scoring eight tries in 12 appearances. He has been instrumental in putting Penrith on the top of the ladder with 11 wins and only one loss. After playing in two consecutive grand finals, he will join five of his teammates in the starting 17 for the Blues.
Play-makers Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary, winger Brian To’o and forwards Isaah Yeo and Liam Martin will be accompanying Crichton in the team. Instead of starting in the centres, Crichton will be coming off the bench.
“I played there for Panthers for a bit on my second year coming off the bench. I’ve been training left centre, right centre, left-wing and right-wing,” he said.
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While speaking, Crichton had a bit of chuckle and laugh about the positions he could play.
“Hopefully not front row,”
Crichton has learned plenty from his squad members during the Blues training camp. The camp includes several experienced and star players from all different teams around the league. Crichton is hoping to learn the most from Roosters fullback James Tedesco.
“I think everyone just brings every piece from each club. I think it’s just the professionalism from all the boys, especially the big dogs (like) Teddy.”
Game 1 of State of Origin can be watched this Wednesday on the Nine Network.
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