Canterbury have confirmed one of rugby league’s worst-kept secrets, announcing the signing of two-time premiership winner Stephen Crichton on a four-year deal.
The 22-year-old has emerged as one of the NRL’s premier outside backs in recent seasons, featuring in both of Penrith’s grand final victories and playing representative football for both NSW and Samoa.
The club released a short statement on Saturday afternoon confirming Crichton’s deal.
“The Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs are pleased to announce that Stephen Crichton has accepted a four-year deal that will see him join the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs from the 2024 season onwards,” the statement read.
“Out of respect to both Stephen and the Penrith Panthers, the club will make no further comment until he joins us at the end of the 2023 season.”
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After months of speculation, Crichton’s exit from the Panthers was confirmed last week, despite the club doing their best to keep the local junior long-term.
Phil Gould and Cameron Ciraldo have been circling Crichton’s movements since early November, with it now locked in that the star centre will be heading to the Bulldogs in 2024.
Crichton has played 76 NRL games since making his debut in 2016, scoring 41 tries and kicking 53 goals for the Panthers.
The Samoan-born star has expressed a desire to play fullback and is likely to receive first crack there for Canterbury upon his arrival next year.
Crichton is the latest of Gould’s major signings for the Dogs, as the club look to rebuild themselves into a premiership force in the coming years.
Phil Gould’s Canterbury Bulldogs overhaul
Since taking over as the club’s head of football, Phil Gould has made a plethora of roster changes at Canterbury.
The club added Matt Burton, Josh Addo-Carr and Tevita Pangai Junior prior to the 2022 season and while the side improved towards the back-end of the year, still missed the finals and saw Trent Barrett axed as coach.
But there is certainly optimism in the air heading into the 2023 campaign with some more major additions, headlined by grand finalists Reed Mahoney and Viliame Kikau, as well as a new coach in Cameron Ciraldo.
Since taking over the club in July 2021, Gould has overseen major changes to the club’s roster and the addition of Crichton is his latest coup.
Josh Addo-Carr, Matt Burton, Matt Dufty, Paul Vaughan, Max King, Brent Naden, Tevita Pangai Junior
|Nick Cotric, Adam Elliott, Will Hopoate, Nick Meaney, Dylan Napa, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, Lachlan Lewis, Chris Smith, Ofahiki Ogden, Renouf Atoni|
|2023||Viliame Kikau, Reed Mahoney, Ryan Sutton, Franklin Pele, Hayze Perham, Andrew Davey||Matt Dufty, Paul Vaughan, Matt Doorey, Corey Allan, Jeremy Marshall-King, Jack Hetherington, Brent Naden, Aaron Schoupp, Joe Stimson, Josh Jackson, Ava Seumanafagai, Brandon Wakeham|