Stephen Crichton’s brief dalliance with Penrith’s No.1 jersey has lit the desire for him to be ready to become a long-term success at fullback.
Crichton played a full game at fullback for the first time since high school in Thursday night’s 46-6 win over Manly, running 166 metres.
The 20-year-old admitted his biggest challenges came in defence and setting Penrith’s line, having rarely had that responsibility before.
With a month-long stint there ahead while Dylan Edwards recovers from a broken hand, it’s not the first time Crichton has flirted with the role.
He was first used as a fullback off the bench for Penrith early last year for parts of games and also played both that and centre growing up.
The Penrith junior’s shift to No.1 ahead of Tyrone May and Charlie Staines paid dividends for the Panthers on Thursday night, allowing Matt Burton to step up at centre.
And while Crichton maintains his own focus is still on centre, he does have aspirations of one day starring at the back.
“One hundred per cent (it’s lit that fire),” Crichton said.
“Obviously I’m new to the position and just want to keep getting better and better.
“If that position opens up in the near future I want to be able to take it.
“It’s a very special position, especially in the team. But it’s been a real learning curve for me in my first game.”
Crichton’s shift to the back also comes with the added bonus of learning from the game’s best No.1 in James Tedesco last year.
The pair spent almost a month together in NSW State of Origin camp and while Crichton only trained at centre he was able to observe Tedesco’s work up close.
“Obviously he has high respect on the way he runs the team around. And just his engine with the way he keeps going on for ages,” Crichton said.
“That’s something I am just looking forward to getting better at.
“He’s got a lot of communication and obviously in a position like fullback you are telling the boys where to go.
“That’s what I got out of Teddy with his communication and where to put the boys in the right positions.”
Meanwhile, the Panthers breathed a sigh of relief on Friday morning, with hooker Mitch Kenny cleared of a crusher tackle by the match review panel.
Had he been charged Penrith would have been down to their third hooker, with Apisai Koroisau already injured.