State of Origin forward Angus Crichton has admitted Blues coach Brad Fittler has been in constant contact with him ahead of his return to the NRL in 2023. Crichton missed the start of the NRL season having gone public with his bipolar diagnosis and opted to take time away with friends and family.
The Kangaroos forward made his return against the Dragons in his team's thrilling 27-26 victory after a Luke Keary field goal. Crichton played 65 minutes and made 28 tackles in his steady performance.
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And Crichton admitted he was a little off his game after missing the first seven weeks of the NRL season. However, the thought of State of Origin footy is still not at the forefront of his mind.
"Obviously I missed a fare bit of footy there so it's about building that back up brick by brick and keep working to get as fit as I can," Crichton said after the match. The first match of State of Origin on May 31 is still five weeks away, which gives Crichton time to build-up match fitness.
The forward admitted he has spoken to the Blues coach about his lead-up to the series. And Crichton was realistic about his chances and what he needed to focus on in the next few weeks. "I have been there a number of times and know what is expected," Crichton said.
"I would do whatever I need to do if I get picked. I'm just continually working on my cardio and strength. I don't want to rush it or push myself and put crazy expectations on myself. I'll just keep chipping away at it every week.
“There are some really good players putting their hand up at the minute who are in peak condition but if (Fittler) wants me to go into camp, I’ll be there for sure." Crichton admitted that Fittler has been in constant contact with the Blues player and offered support throughout his time away from the game.
“Yeah I’ve spoken to (Fittler) throughout the last couple of months, he’s been great, a big supporter of mine and we get on really well, we’ve got a good relationship and yeah I’ve been chatting to Freddy here and there.”
Crichton's return comes at a pivotal moment for the Blues with backrower options taking a hit. Liam Martin hasn't enjoyed the best of starts for the Panthers due to injury, while bulldozing forward and potential debutant Keaon Koloamatangi is also sidelined for the Rabbitohs.
Cameron Murray will be picked and could play on one side, while Manly's in-form star Haumole Olakau'atu could be set for his debut off the bench.
Brad Fittler's five-eighth dilemma for State of Origin
Another week has passed and the debate continues on who should wear the No.6 jersey for the Blues in this year's Origin series.
Hynes has carried over his 2022 Dally M form and helped the Sharks to become the second-highest point scorers in the NRL through eight rounds. Having missed a number of games, Hynes still has seven try assists and is second in the NRL with 10 line-break assists.
However, Hynes will be looking to usurp Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai. The incumbent shares a partnership with Nathan Cleary at club-level.
Another injury concern Fittler faces as Blues coach is that of star Tom Trbojevic. The Manly fullback walked off injured in the 70th minute on the weekend with a groin injury and is no certainty to play this weekend.
Blues selector Greg Alexander admitted that Trbojevic's ongoing injuries are a concern ahead of the first game in the series.
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