In 2013 and 2014, Angus Crichton represented NSW and Australian Schoolboys, and played an integral role in the Scots College team that won the prestigious GPS schoolboy competition.
Despite showing immense talent and versatility across the back row and the centres, after finishing school, the Waratahs told Crichton he wouldn’t be playing Super Rugby until he was 23.
NRL club South Sydney, however, told him the opposite – that he’d be playing first grade as soon as he was ready.
On October 2014, Crichton signed with the Rabbitohs, making his debut in the cardinal and myrtle in 2016.
A meteoric rise saw him become a key member of the Rabbitohs’ squad and led to an Origin berth in 2018.
Since 2019, Crichton has been signed on a big-money contract with the Roosters, however rumours are beginning to swirl of Crichton’s dissatisfaction, linking him with a potential defection to rugby union.
While it can be dangerous to pay too much attention to the NRL rumour mill, it seems entirely plausible that Crichton may ask for a release from the last two years of his NRL deal, in which case he will likely sign with the Waratahs.
As reported by Fox Sports in December 2018, Crichton admitted that the 2023 Rugby World Cup is on his radar.
“Yeah of course,” he said. “You never want to sign a ten-year deal because you never know what the game is going to do, you never know what you’re going to do as a player. What you can achieve elsewhere.”
He admits that had the Waratahs or another Super Rugby club provided him with a real offer post-school, he never would have spoken to rugby league. So it is evident Crichton still has a burning desire to representing the Wallabies.
Given the bad luck rugby union has had when it comes to signing rugby league players in the past – not only with off-field issues but a struggle to successfully convert these players – there is reason for RA to be concerned about signing such a high-profile player as Crichton, who will command a big-money deal.
Unlike the league converts who have come before him, Crichton won’t carry the same type of risk due to his schoolboy years playing union.
While it may take a few seasons to re-varnish his rugby union skills and to convert him into a genuine rugby union centre, he already possess the innate rugby smarts that escapes almost all but the best league converts. This should make his conversion somewhat seamless.
In turn, his value to Australian rugby could be enormous. A devastating ball-runner and a ferocious defender, one could see Crichton as an immediate successor to Samu Kerevi following his departure to Japan at the end of this season.
Unlike Kerevi, however, Crichton has shown an ability as a ball player, putting players into holes and a capability to offload in the tackle.
For the first time ever, the Wallabies may finally possess a genuine 21st Century inside centre.
For too long the Wallabies have had to decide between a second playmaker or a crash ball-runner at No.12.
Finally, we may have someone who is capable of playing both roles, and could kick-start the Wallabies towards their 2023 campaign.
A partnership with Jordan Petaia would be a formidable centre pairing for the Wallabies, and provided they effectively start rebuilding after this year’s World Cup, could help turn them back into a Test powerhouse.
For years, Wallabies fans have mourned the loss of Angus Crichton to the NRL, however it seems the time for Angus to return home is rapidly approaching.