Born To Be A Star
Story By : Dale Walker Nepean News
Panthers teen sensation Stephen Crichton is a man of many talents, and at one stage, Rugby League was not his strong side. At age 15, Crichton was playing in the third team at St Pat’s College Blacktown and was not under the notice of coaching staff or talent scouts.
In fact, Crichton, who commenced schooling at ‘Patties’ in year seven was an outstanding musician and a promising basketballer. Music Teacher Karen Davidson said that Crichton was the best drummer she had ever seen.
“I loved playing the drums and basketball was great fun also,” said Chrichton.“At the time I enjoyed basketball more than football and when I was asked to try out for reps I couldn’t as it clashed with the league finals.”
Following a season in the under 15’s, Crichton started to grow and became more co -ordinated which saw him enter the firsts team at age 16. St Pat’s Coach of nine years, Greg Beacroft, was impressed with the short turnaround in development. “He certainly was a late bloomer, that’s for sure,” said Beacroft.
“He had a good 16’s season and I was looking forward to the following year in the senior schoolboys competitions.” Playing SG Ball for Penrith, Crichton stood out.“This was a defining year for Crichton, said Beacroft.
“I asked him to play in the combined schools MCS team and he looked at me and said, ‘Sir I don’t think I’m good enough’.” “Stephen was the first one picked amongst the selectors and it was at this moment that he realised he has the ability to go a long way in the game.”
As a student, Stephen was a tremendous footballer,” said St Pat’s Year 12 Co – Ordinator Dom Cullen.“He is a vibrant lad and full of character.
Stephen was a pleasure to have around, he brought a good vibe to the place. His mind was on sports and that’s where he was always going to end up, we are very proud of him at St Pats.
”Crichton was born in Samoa and at the age of two moved to New Zealand before settling in Mt Druitt where he still lives today with Mum Gogosina and Dad Va’a. The youngster has five brothers, a sister and appreciates what life has presented to him.
“I’m motivated by how fortunate I have become through football,” said Crichton. “If I have a bad day I look back at the struggle growing up and how hard it was for mum and dad before I came along.
It can be easy for people to feel sorry for themselves, but I am in a good space so when I feel down I look at life in a positive manner and it helps me get through. “If I can pass on a positive outlook, I keep telling myself that there is always light at the end of a dark tunnel.”
Crichton’s father is a Pastor at the local Church and spends a lot of his down time with his family and the church. On many occasions he has been described as a young Israel Folau, and that’s just fine by him.
“I model my game on Israel, I look up to him in many ways, as a footballer, a person and our faith,” he said. “Israel uses his height and that’s something I can make the most of, it’s not an advantage that many footballers have.
I just aim to be the best at what I am doing and Israel provides that inspiration.” Crichton played his junior footy as a centre, but is most versatile in also being able to play fullback and wing.
He is an outstanding goal kicker and has been given the back up role for when Nathan Cleary is not a part of the first grade team. “I love kicking, I embrace the pressure that comes with it,” said Crichton.
His fondest schoolboy memory was the senior grand final against Westfield Sports High in 2018. St Pat’s had just scored in the corner to level the game and the full time siren was imminent. With the opposition crowd jeering, yelling, blowing horns and throwing debris on the field, Crichton was under immense pressure.
“I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life, I hit it sweetly and it sailed over and gave us the grand final win,” he said. “I remember vividly the goosebumps, and the St Pats crowd going wild, it would be a dream for that to happen in the NRL one day.
”Crichton, not only pays his respects to St Pats for landing where he is today but Panthers Assistant Coach Ben Harden instilled the confidence into the one time timid youngster.
“For a long time I didn’t have confidence in Rugby League. My brother Christian was playing first grade and many people were saying I was only getting a run because of my brother.
I never believed in myself but Ben had faith and selected me to play without a trial for the Panthers SG Ball team. Ben made me realise my potential, he was always providing the positivity required and brought the best out in me. I thank him for what he did every day.”
Coach Ivan Cleary has some big decisions on his hands, as Crichton is improving so much and so quickly he is warranting a spot in the run-on team.
He has been a standout for the Panthers in 2020, albeit coming off the bench in the first two rounds. And, it’s fair to say, if Crichton didn’t play the way he did, Penrith wouldn’t have grabbed victories on each occasion.
The world is at the feet of Crichton, still filling out like a young three-year-old colt primed to reach his peak. Many good judges have a big opinion of Crichton, and I’m personally of the belief, State of Origin and rep honours are beckoning in 2-3 years time.
You can view the article through the following link: Nepean News 28 May 2020
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