Crichton a possible Penrith option if they miss Fifita

Scott Bailey and George Clarke |

Penrith could make a play for Angus Crichton (centre) if they miss out on David Fifita.
Penrith could make a play for Angus Crichton (centre) if they miss out on David Fifita.

Angus Crichton looms as the second piece of the David Fifita puzzle, shaping as a possible alternative for Penrith if they miss out on the NRL’s most in-demand forward. 

Fifita must make a call by Thursday on whether he will take up a two-year option at Gold Coast, on a deal worth nearly $1 million a season.

If he knocks that back, the destructive 24-year-old is sitting on offers from both Penrith and the Sydney Roosters worth about $850,000 a season.

St George Illawarra are also expected to be interested, and have cash to spend given Zac Lomax’s impending exit and Jack de Belin’s big-money contract expiring.

David Fifita.
David Fifita must decide whether he will take up a two-year option at Gold Coast. (Jason O’BRIEN/AAP PHOTOS)

Lurking in the background remains Crichton’s situation.

The Roosters second-rower is unsigned for next year, and still exploring the option of linking with a French rugby union club.

AAP has been told the Panthers made an inquiry late last week to understand the lay of the land for the second-rower.

Fifita remains the Panthers’ No.1 target, but Crichton would likely be considered if the three-time premiers miss out on Fifita.

Whether Cricthon remains at the Roosters could also depend on whether they acquire Fifita.

The Roosters rarely lose a player they want to keep, but will see Joey Manu and Joseph Suaalii leave at season’s end.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Luke Keary’s impending exits also mean they will have more than 1000 games of experience walk out the door at year’s end.

Crichton has began talks with the Roosters for next year, but is yet to receive a formal offer.

After starting the season in reserve grade, the 28-year-old has shot back into State of Origin contention after a big few weeks.

While it is possible the Roosters could fit both Fifita and Crichton into their cap, that would leave a lot of money tied up in the club’s back row.

Both Crichton and Fifita play on the left edge, and Sitili Tupouniua is also signed until the end of 2027, likely leaving one of the trio to come off the bench.

Rising star Siua Wong is also viewed as a long-term prospect at the club.

Meanwhile, Penrith’s interest in buying a second-rower shows their long-term plan to replace James Fisher-Harris.

While the club has not tried to lure top-tier talent away from a rival at all this decade, Fisher-Harris’s request to leave for the Warriors did surprise the Panthers.

They are therefore looking to plug the hole between Fisher-Harris’s end-of-season exit and their next wave of front-rowers being ready for the NRL.

“I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t investigate every option out there,” Penrith NRL CEO Matt Cameron said.

“If David’s services are available for the ’25 and ’26 seasons, it would be remiss of us not to explore that.”

Tigers prop Stefano Utoikamanu is not on Penrith’s radar, and middle forwards are limited on the market.

If Fifita or Crichton was brought to the club, it is most likely Scott Sorenson would move into the middle to allow the recruit to play on an edge.