Braith Anasta and Cooper Cronk believes Stephen Crichton is the man to replace the injured Tom Trbojevic in the centres for the Blues as the Panthers star closes in an Origin debut.
Crichton was a big chance to replace Latrell Mitchell, but Trbojevic’s season ending injury means he the Panthers star is firming for his first NSW jersey.
“They are on fire the Panthers and it could be To’o and Crichton partnering each other in the centre wing combination for the NSW Blues,” Anasta said on Fox League.
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“I think it is a huge chance and why not when you have got Cleary and Luai in the halves and Isaah Yeo in the middle playing lock.”
Cronk believes club combinations are a powerful tool in picking Origin sides given the short preparation leading into the series.
“There is no doubt that combinations work when it gets to that elite level because you only have a short preparation, which definitely helps,” Cronk said.
Panthers and Blues halfback Nathan Cleary was devastated for Trbojevic, but has no doubt Crichton has what it takes to fill the void at centre.
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“Firstly just really sorry to hear about Tommy,” Cleary said.
“I hope he is at home resting up and I hope everything is alright.
“It is devastating for him, but in terms of Critta (Crichton) he is more than ready.
“He has performed in big games and when our backs were against the wall in that second half he is the one that comes up with the big play and runs the field.
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Panthers winger To’o is excited by the prospect of carrying his combination with Crichton into the Origin arena.
“It is about earning the opportunity to play for the Blues,” To’o said.
“Even myself. Hopefully we can continue to work hard and god willing have the opportunity to play for the Blues.”
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Crichton is excited about a potential Blues debut but chose to focus on his club form and let Origin selection take care of itself.
“I would be truly grateful for the opportunity,” Crichton said.
“Especially playing on one of the biggest stages.
“Hopefully the opportunity comes around, but I’m just trying to play good and consistent footy for the Penrith boys here and trying to get to another grand final.
“Hopefully any bonuses would be good.”