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Crichton refuses to commit to Panthers with club set to meet new manager

“I’ll see what’s best for my family,” Crichton told The Sun-Herald. “I have a new manager and when I get home [from Blues camp] I’ll start chatting with them and see what happens.”

When pressed if he could guarantee he would remain at the foot of the mountains once his deal expired at the end of next season, Crichton said: “I’m not sure”.

In demand ... Stephen Crichton

In demand … Stephen CrichtonCredit:Janie Barrett

“I spoke to Ivan, the handshake … I told him I’ll see what’s best for my family and things like that. I didn’t have a manager at the time. Now I’ve got one, so I’ve left it with them to look after.

“I was committed [to Penrith], but I’m seeing what’s best for my family as well.”

Penrith fans will be sweating on Crichton recommitting to the club after his breakout season in the centres outside Viliame Kikau. He was rewarded for his form by being selected in the NSW Origin squad and while he never played against Queensland, was grateful for the experience and chance to rub shoulders with some of the game’s biggest names.

Penrith also have a battle on their hands to retain Matt Burton, who has attracted serious interest from Canterbury, while Isaah Yeo and Jarome Luai are both off contract at the end of next year.

The Panthers believe their current offer for Crichton is perfect for a player entering just the second year of his NRL career. They are loathe to pay their local talent too much too soon for fear the financial reward will put them on an unwanted pedestal.

Crichton did not want the negotiations to drag on and simply said “hopefully really soon” when it came to reaching an outcome.

The Sydney Roosters have been linked to Crichton, and are in need of a centre once Josh Morris moves on at the end of next year.

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Crichton said none of the Roosters had tried to sell him the Bondi dream while in Blues camp.

The Mt Druitt local knows rival teams will know how to handle him a lot better next year, and it will be up to him to overcome the second-year syndrome. Latrell Mitchell even referenced the challenges Crichton would face next year when speaking from personal experience on the Bloke In A Bar podcast recently.

Daine Laurie signed with the Wests Tigers this week, but is on a development contract with Penrith next season and will not be granted an early release.

Burton will also be kept at the foot of the mountains next year, even if he signs elsewhere for 2022.

Meanwhile, another Crichton, Angus, has been taken off the market by the Roosters, especially with uncertainty about the future of skipper Boyd Cordner.

Several clubs had expressed interest in Crichton, including the Wests Tigers, but rivals had since been told the gun forward would be going nowhere.

Crichton, one of NSW’s best players during the Origin series, told the Herald during Origin camp how he loved the Roosters and wanted to commit to a new long-term deal.

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