June 22, 2024

At Dogs, Crichton hopes to see Burton perform at his peak once again.

Ahead of the Bulldogs’ NRL debut at center, Stephen Crichton has pledged to try and unleash the old Matt Burton on Canterbury’s star-studded left edge.

In Friday night’s 12-6 pre-season loss to Cronulla, Crichton led a team for the first time in his life while playing 20 minutes at left center at Belmore.

The Bulldogs’ starting lineup for the opening round is still up in the air, as Blake Taaffe had a challenging game against the Sharks at fullback.

However, Crichton currently seems most likely to start at center against Parramatta when the Dogs open their season on March 9 after spending some pre-season time training at fullback.

A Canterbury team that has had difficulty scoring points for the previous seven seasons appears to have one of the strongest advantages in the competition.

Together, Viliame Kikau, Burton, and Crichton won a premiership at Penrith, while Josh Addo-Carr, a star player for the Kangaroos in Test cricket, is still one of the fastest wingers in the NRL.

However, Burton’s shape will be essential to converting that potential from paper to grass.

Burton was cleared to play in the opening round on Saturday after evading a charge for a high shot on Daniel Atkinson of Cronulla.

There have been suggestions for the 23-year-old to switch from the halves to the center at the end of last year because he hasn’t exactly flourished since transferring from Penrith to Canterbury in 2022.

According to Crichton, “Burto running the ball is a massive factor.”

He’s been a little quiet the previous few seasons, so I’m attempting to let him go and encourage him to play joyfully and with what he sees.

“When an NRL player is content both on and off the field, they perform at their highest level.

“It’s critical that we stay in sync both on and off the field. It’s important to get a rapid connection with him, even if there are mistakes.

“He’s also leading our left edge. He has performed admirably.”

Crichton stated that it was more complicated than just him, Burton, and Kikau running the identical plays on the left against the Bulldogs, despite their winning record at Penrith.

“Everything’s probably changed from the last time I’ve played with Burto and Kiks,” Crichton stated.

“We’ve got a lot of new strengths on the edge, and we’re just trying to do plays to cater to our strengths and be at our best.”

Under the guidance of Cameron Ciraldo, the former assistant coach of the Panthers, Crichton is eager to help bring the Penrith work ethic to Canterbury.

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