Angus Crichton flew from third-choice edge forward to first in the Roosters' pecking order, and he's relishing the extra responsibility leading into round one after a powerful trial performance.
With club games record-holder Mitch Aubusson retiring over the off-season and inspirational skipper Boyd Cordner sitting out the first half of the season after his head knock during Origin in November, Crichton is now very much a key man for Trent Robinson's side in 2021.
One of the latest back at their pre-season campaign on January 14 due to Origin commitments, Crichton's determination to keep training on his own may have been part of the reason for his commanding trial form.
The 25-year-old was a whirlwind of tackle-busting and offloading while playing in Cordner's usual left-edge role, combining well with Sam Walker to set up a try for the young halfback against Canberra on Saturday.
"I'm a second-rower, which is where I want to be," Crichton said.
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"I'll do whatever the team needs and last year I had to fill in at lock certain times but second row is my preferred position."
Whether he'll line up in next Saturday's season opener against Manly on the left or return to the right, where he played most of his career for Souths, shall remain a mystery for now though.
"I played on the left on the weekend but Robbo's full of surprises, he might change it up before round one so I won't give you too much info, we'll see what happens," he added.
Sam Walker backs up Crichton to score
"People say if you're a right-hand carry or right-footed you should be on the right side of the field so I am naturally on the right but obviously with Boydo out this year you have to do whatever the team needs of you.
"I didn't really play any sides in union. I debuted on the left and then played most my career on the right before I came to the Roosters.
"You don't want to pigeon-hole yourself left or right. You're an edge back-rower."
A combination of Crichton, Luke Keary, Josh Morris and Dan Tupou will spell headaches for defensive lines in 2021. Crichton said he has been working well with all the half options at the club.
"I've got really good combinations with all our halves whether that be Kez [Keary], Lammy [Lachlan Lam], Drew Hutchison or Sammy Walker. It was good fun to link up with all those guys minus Keary on the weekend, start some new combinations," he said.
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"We've got some really promising young players in our side."
Crichton said he was able to hit the ground running after one of his better pre-seasons, despite the shorter build-up.
"I was injury free, which helps," he said.
"I always do a bit of training over the break, but because I was injury free I was able to do better quality training.
"I did some different types of training too which was good to experiment with.
"One of my best mates, Jack Maddocks who's at the Waratahs, had a similar off-season as well so we kept it pretty clean Monday to Friday and kept training pretty hard."
The off-contract forward remains without a club for next year but is confident of getting a deal done at the Roosters.
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"We're still sorting that out; obviously I'm still keen to stay," he said.
"We'll get through it. You want to get it done as quickly as you can. Sometimes things like this take time, we've both said we're keen to keep working together, we'll sort it out.
"I love playing here, I love the area, I love the club, the staff and the players so I'm not looking to leave any time soon at all."
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