Connect with us


Gus efforts to construct the Canterbury Panthers while Crichton has left for the Dogs and $3.3 million

Penrith center Stephen Crichton, the winner of two premierships, has signed a four-year deal with the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs worth more than $3.3 million, making his move to the Bulldogs official as of 2024.

Crichton will join Matt Burton and Viliame Kikau as members of Penrith’s premiership-winning side in blue and white for the upcoming season, marking the latest major recruitment triumph for Canterbury-rebuild Bankstown’s under new coach Cameron Ciraldo.

Astutely, the Bulldogs have been playing the long game, holding off on making a move until Crichton was free-agent material.

Following Monday’s development, Canterbury-Bankstown power broker Phil Gould and Ciraldo spent little time putting the necessary plans to keep Crichton at Belmore through 2024.

It has still to be determined whether Crichton will start at fullback or in the centers for the Bulldogs, but the strength of Canterbury-roster Bankstown’s going forward is not in question.

Young star front-rower Spencer Leniu has a good chance of becoming the Panthers’ next member to join the new-look Bulldogs, which is another warning sign for defending premiers Penrith as they feel the salary constraint squeeze of developing success.

The 22-year-old Leniu is out of contract at the end of the season, and with other teams in the league wanting to bolster their squads, the Panthers could lose yet another talented homegrown player.

In 2019, with Crichton now playing for the Bulldogs, the Panthers will have lost eight players from their two consecutive premiership sides.

But the Panthers have a huge leg up because of the world’s largest rugby league junior nursery. Eight local kids played for the Panthers in last year’s grand final.

Leniu’s departure is only the latest sign of the toll the Panthers’ recent success has had on the team.

Most other NRL teams would be fine putting the Samoan international Leniu in the front row. He is universally regarded as the model of the contemporary center forward by experts.

However, the premiers have James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota, two of the NRL’s best front rowers, in their starting lineup.

It’s complicated by the fact that new Bulldogs coach Ciraldo has a handshake agreement with Panthers coach Ivan Cleary to avoid poaching players from Penrith’s outstanding product line.

The Bulldogs waited patiently for Crichton’s transfer to Canterbury-Bankstown for next season, and it was only in the last three days that a series of meetings with Gould and Ciraldo finally sealed the deal.

After serving as an assistant coach for the under-20s team for nine years, Ciraldo became Cleary’s right-hand man in the NRL for the past five years.

Whether or whether halfback Mitchell Moses decides to leave Parramatta and join arch-rivals Canterbury in 2024 is the next recruiting priority for the Bulldogs.

The Wests Tigers of Concord, who are also interested in signing Moses, are rumored to have offered him a contract worth roughly $1.5 million per season.

The Eels have kept the hope of acquiring the coveted No.7 jersey.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Must See

More in NRL