Angus Crichton’s yoyo year across the Sydney Roosters’ pack and backline has him understanding his game better than when he was dropped by NSW last year.
Crichton will start in a State of Origin match for the first time on Wednesday night, called into the Blues’ second row for the must-win clash against Queensland at ANZ Stadium.
It’s the culmination of a long year for the Roosters back-rower.
A regular second-rower, he began 2020 playing centre in the World Club Challenge as part of an coach Trent Robinson’s search to replace Latrell Mitchell.
Crichton then returned to his regular spot in the pack for the start of the NRL season but a knee injury forced him out for six weeks.
He then came back off the bench for the Roosters, regularly used at lock before finally regaining his place in the second row in the finals.
“By doing that, playing a bit of centre, playing a bit of lock, playing on the edge, it gave me a greater understanding of the game,” Crichton said.
“I got to learn about other peoples’ positions and where they need to be (and a better) understanding on what role I need to have inside the team.
“And (also) the kind of game I want to build myself to be able to play.”
Crichton’s return to the NSW side has almost been overshadowed by other changes, as well as the head knock suffered by the man he is replacing.
But he follows a similar path to high-profile five-eighth returnee Cody Walker.
Axed by Fittler after the Blues’ 18-14 loss in Game I of 2019, Crichton won his spot back via the bench in this year’s series opener playing largely in the middle.
His preparation this week has been much clearer, knowing what role he will start the match in.
“It was tough (last year) but at the same time I knew I wasn’t playing my best footy so you just have to be honest with yourself,” Crichton said.
“Coming back from a (pre-season) shoulder reco, I wasn’t physically where I am right now so a lot of work’s been done between then and now.
“I’m really excited to be back in this arena and plying my trade and really excited for Wednesday.”