AS many as six clubs could be in for Samoa and Penrith Panthers star Stephen Crichton – the man who broke English hearts in the Rugby League World Cup semi-final.
The scores were locked at 26-26 going into Golden Point extra-time, but up stepped Crichton to land the winning drop goal and send Samoa into their first ever World Cup final.
Since then, there has been much speculation about where Crichton’s future may lie considering the fact that he is out of contract at the end of 2023 and the debate over the salary cap and minimum wage in the NRL has left some clubs questioning future deals.
Of course, being such an integral figure in Penrith’s charge to the top with his superb centre play and goalkicking ability being vital for the Panthers, there was great hope amongst the Blue Mountains that he would stay – even on a less lucrative deal than what could be offered elsewhere.
However, Penrith have now released a statement saying that Crichton will be leaving the club at the end of 2023, with the centre himself stating: “It was the hardest decision to make, but now my full focus is on the 2023 season and finishing my time at Panthers as strong as I can,” he said.
“It’s going to be tough to leave my teammates, but we will have our chance to make more memories this year. I know my friendships at Panthers won’t finish here but will last forever.”
In terms of where Crichton’s future may lie in 2024, as many as six clubs are thought to be chasing the livewire, with Canterbury Bulldogs one of the favourites leading the charge.
Remember, the centre wants to have a shot at playing fullback too and with Dylan Edwards ripping up trees for the Panthers at the back, a move away is perhaps the only way for Crichton to realise his number one dream.