One of the stories of the off-season has centred around World Cup star Stephen Crichton.
“Mr Clutch” as the Samoan players call him after his heroics that broke English hearts during the Rugby League World Cup semi-finals, he has also routinely produced big moments in the NRL such as in the 2021 NRL Grand Final, the first of two back-to-back titles for him and Penrith.
Chased by The Dolphins and Canterbury Bulldogs, Crichton is a player Penrith should try and keep and it was initially seen as too difficult with him likely commanding a big wage and possible a positional change, but he is “absolutely desperate” to stay.
“The development is that Stephen Crichton, grand final hero, is absolutely desperate to stay at the Penrith Panthers,” Daily Telegraph journalist Phil Rothfield told Big Sports Breakfast.
“He grew up in the area alongside all his teammates there and he played for Samoa alongside his teammates. He does not want to go anywhere.”
It came as the suggestion that he wants to switch to fullback, like it is reported England star Herbie Farnworth wants, was denied.
“There has been reports that he wants to play fullback – he is denying that and understands their current fullback (Dylan Edwards) has done such a wonderful job… he understands his future at the club at this stage is as a centre,” Rothfield added.
“He is prepared to take a significant pay-cut to stay at the Panthers. The problem is, the club has not made him any sort of offer to stay.
“Penrith can get out of this by saying ‘look we only found out the day before Christmas what the salary cap is’ – so now the ball is in Penrith’s court.”
“(His loyalty) can only last so long. He is a young player and he has to sort his future out.
“Matt Cameron, Ivan Cleary and everyone else at Penrith need to get off their backsides and talk to this kid and say ‘this is your offer.’”