It’s been an emotional week for outgoing Panther Stephen Crichton.
Not only will he play his final game in Penrith colours on Sunday night, but he will be doing it in a Grand Final in what will be his 100th NRL game.
It’s certainly a unique predicament the 23-year-old finds himself in, but one he wouldn’t trade for the world.
As far as blessed players go, Crichton is one of them.
In 100 games of first grade rugby league, Crichton would’ve featured in four Grand Finals. A unique achievement – unless you’re a Panther – in the modern game.
“I’m feeling excited! I feel grateful to be at a club that works hard to get to where it’s at right now,” Crichton told the Weekender.
“That was the goal at the start of the year, to give ourselves the chance to be here and, now that we are here, it’s pretty exciting and I’m so keen to go.”
Crichton has been part of so many of Penrith’s big moments over recent years, with his Grand Final-winning intercept in 2021 at the top of the pile.
While the St Clair Comets junior would love one more to add his highlight reel before his time at Penrith is over, he knows those moments can’t always be planned.
“I don’t dream of them but it just comes down to our training, and the way we train on the field is what comes out on the field,” he said.
“I’m pretty excited to get back to training tomorrow and build that connection with the boys and be ready to go.”
Crichton won’t be the only Panther playing with his teammates for the final time on Sunday, with good mate Spencer Leniu and Knights-bound half Jack Cogger also departing at full-time.
The NSW Blues centre said he’ll miss just about everything at Penrith, but most of all the passionate fans who cheered him for a century of games from the packed stands of BlueBet Stadium.
“I’ll miss the crowd and the culture that Ivan’s built here,” Crichton said.
“The players make training so fun. No matter if the day is hard, the boys make it fun.
“But I’ll miss our fans the most. They are at our home games, at our away games, cheering us on and pushing us to the end. I definitely wouldn’t be here without them and I’m pretty keen for the weekend.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.