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Crichton to leave Panthers after 2023 season

Westpac NSW Origin centre Stephen Crichton will be enjoying his last year at the Penrith Panthers following the news today he would be looking for a new club in 2024.

The 22-year-old has won back-to-back Telstra Premierships with the Panthers and is about to enter his fifth season of NRL.

He has scored 41 tries in 76 games, including a try in each of the Grand Final wins over South Sydney (2021) and Parramatta (2022).

Crichton made his Origin debut last year playing all three games.

Stephen Crichton | 2022 NRL Highlights

But a club statement said they had been notified by Crichton’s management that he would be ”seeking opportunities elsewhere in 2024” formally rejecting the Panthers’ offer made mid-last year.

It’s a similar situation to his NSW Blues teammate Matt Burton, who signed with the Bulldogs in late 2020 but played the full 2021 season with the Panthers before joining Canterbury-Bankstown in 2022.

Like Burton emphasised at the time, Crichton is committed to helping the Panthers with a NRL trophy three-peat.

“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.”

Crichton, with three Origin games and six matches for Samoa at the World Cup, including the quarter-final, semi-final and final, and his two NRL Premiership rings, is certain to attract interest from the 16 other NRL clubs.

“Although Panthers is disappointed by the outcome, the club respects Stephen’s decision, and understands the situation is exacerbated by salary cap pressure based on the club’s recent success,” Panthers Rugby League CEO Matt Cameron said.

“The club thanks Stephen for his efforts and is looking forward to seeing him represent the Panthers for the remainder of the 2023 NRL season.”

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