Panthers legend Ryan Girdler has warned Penrith Blues rookie Stephen Crichton may be targeted by other clubs, who are willing to pay him fullback money.
Crichton, who was ruled out of the NSW 21-man squad for Game II with a hamstring injury is in negotiations with the Panthers over his future.
However Girdler believes the 20-year-old has a future in the No.1 jersey and if the Panthers won’t pay him fullback money then someone else will.
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“I know they have had him come on at fullback and I think he debuted at fullback, but he can come on anywhere and make an impact this guy,” Girdler said.
“He can come on the wing at a pinch. He is certainly a great centre. But maybe someone is going to want him to be a bit more involved like a Latrell Mitchell.
“Maybe someone is going to want to snap him up and make him into a fullback because he is six foot four inches and a hundred kilos. He is a great athlete.
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“There is no reason to believe that he could not make a great fullback and they are probably the most important position in the game at the moment.”
However Girdler admitted the Panthers were in a tough position because they can’t offer him fullback money while he is playing centre for the club.
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“No they can’t pay him fullback money,” Girdler said.
“But if someone wants to come in and give him fullback money I wouldn’t be surprised.
“But they need to pay him what a centre is paid. But an Origin centre and he might not play Origin this year, but I think we have all seen the trajectory that he is on.
“He needs to be careful too as a young guy that has played in a grand final and been in the Origin squad that getting a wrong call now might set him back as well.
“He wants to play finals and be at a club that is worthy of winning a premiership, so he wants to make sure he gets this call right as well.”
Stephen Crichton in the grand final.Source:Getty Images
Girdler believes the club should do everything in their power to keep Crichton at Penrith, but warned making the wrong calls with their salary cap will affect their long-term success.
“It is hard to say because I don’t know what shape their salary cap is in. They have brought a lot of young guys in over the last couple of seasons,” Girdler said on Triple M.
“Nathan Cleary is on a fair whack. James Tamou moved on and he was on a lot of money. They have been able to replace him with guys that are on half his salary.
“They need to make space in their cap for Jarome Luai and Isaah Yeo is going to want an upgrade. James Fisher Harris and Liam Martin.
“These decisions over the next couple of years will determine whether or not Penrith can stay at the top of the tree for a long period or whether they just fall back down the ladder.”
Originally published asLegend warns Panthers of rival clubs circling Crichton with ‘fullback money’
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