Crichton named in centres for Bulldogs’ final NRL trial

George Clarke |

Bulldogs recruit Stephen Crichton has been named in the centres for their final NRL trial match.
Bulldogs recruit Stephen Crichton has been named in the centres for their final NRL trial match.

Canterbury coach Cameron Ciraldo has given the biggest indication yet star off-season recruit Stephen Crichton will start the 2024 NRL season in the centres.

Crichton, who moved to Belmore after winning three straight premierships with Penrith, was tipped to make the switch to fullback after arriving at the Bulldogs.

The Samoan international, however, was named at centre for Friday’s trial against Cronulla, with Blake Taaffe getting the nod in the No.1 jersey.

Bronson Xerri is Canterbury’s other centre with barnstorming backrower Viliame Kikau also set to get a hit-out after missing most of last season.

Cronulla will trot out their near strongest team with prop Toby Rudolf set to get valuable minutes under his belt at Belmore Oval as he recovers from a recurring toe issue. 

Elsewhere, Ryan Papenhuyzen will be given another chance to prove his fitness after being named to start for Melbourne, who take on Newcastle in Fiji on Saturday.

Nick Meaney starts in the centres for the Storm while Newcastle resisted the temptation of naming hooker Jayden Brailey as he recovers from a knee injury.

The Dolphins and Warriors are both at near full strength for Saturday’s meeting in Auckland, while St George Illawarra coach Shane Flanagan will persist with using Zac Lomax on the wing.

The Dragons play the Wests Tigers on Saturday in Mudgee where PNG international Justin Olam is set to debut for Benji Marshall’s side. 

In Sunday’s games, Canberra will try Albert Hopoate at fullback with Xavier Savage again picked on the wing for their clash with North Queensland in Queanbeyan. 

Meanwhile, Parramatta coach Brad Arthur has named a full-strength team to face the Gold Coast, who will deploy AJ Brimson at centre in their clash in Ipswich.

All four of the NRL’s Las Vegas-bound teams – Manly, Brisbane, South Sydney and the Roosters – have put out depleted squads full of youngsters and state cup players for this weekend’s trials.