Penrith Panthers, Stephen Crichton exit, recruits, signings, who will be missed, Isaah Yeo, Ivan Cleary, news, videos, highlights


Panthers skipper Isaah Yeo has declared former teammate Stephen Crichton will be the hardest player the Penrith outfit have been forced to replace in years.

Ivan Cleary’s side have won three-straight premiershipships and rival clubs consistently come knocking, hoping to recruit top talent.

Viliame Kikau, Matt Burton, Api Koroisau and Kurt Capewell have departed in recent seasons, while Spencer Leniu also joined the Roosters ahead of 2024.

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While each of those stars played a crucial role in securing premierships for the Panthers, Yeo told the SMH he believes Crichton will be missed the most.

“It’s hard to replace ‘Critta’, he’s played 100 games, and his best games have all been in the biggest moments,” Yeo said.

“All the players that have left have been important for us – the boys who have been poached have all helped our success so much.

“He’s never played poorly on the Origin arena, he’s come up with big plays in grand finals, and he kicked the field-goal to put Samoa into the World Cup final. No moment is too big for him.

“It’s not just what he brought on the field in those big moments, it was off the field, too. He brought the energy, he was incredibly professional, and a good leader for a lot of the younger boys as well.

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“He’ll be sorely missed.”

Taylan May has been tasked with picking up Crichton’s slack in the centres, while wing partner Sunia Turuva has been cleared of an injury suffered in the World Club Challenge.

Meanwhile, five-eighth Jarome Luai also returns from a shoulder injury, having been replaced by Jack Cole for the game against Wigan.

Crichton has since been named the Bulldogs’ new captain, taking over from Reed Mahoney who was handed the reins in 2023 by Cameron Ciraldo.


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