Cameron Smith questions Stephen Crichton call after brutal Bulldogs thrashing

Stephen Crichton could be set for a change of the Bulldogs can't respond.

NRL great Cameron Smith has questioned whether Stephen Crichton wants to be playing in the centres for the Bulldogs after Cameron Ciraldo opted not to play their new recruit at fullback in the first round of the season. Crichton made the huge move from the Penrith Panthers to the Bulldogs in 2024 and remained in his usual position at centre for the opening round.

However, the performance from the Bulldogs will have fans worried with the Eels handing them a 26-8 loss to start the season. Crichton scored towards the end of the match, but was not involved in play as much as he could have been for a team that was looking to rebound from a horrible 2023 campaign.

Cameron Smith watches as Stephen Crichton reacts.
NRL great Cameron Smith (pictured left) has questioned whether Stephen Crichton (pictured right) is happy playing in the centres for the Bulldogs. (Getty Images)

Many Bulldogs fans thought Crichton could start at fullback, which would allow him to get his hands on the ball more in an attack. Instead, coach Cameron Ciraldo opted to play Blake Taafe in the No.1 position and keep Crichton at centre to form a strong left-edge attack. Crichton only received the ball 14 times and ran for 62 metres.

Taafe endured a mixed game for the Bulldogs and will continue to come under scrutiny if the Bulldogs don't secure a few wins. And Storm legend Smith has questioned whether it would be better for Crichton to start at fullback to keep the star player happy.

“Stephen Crichton, I just wonder whether he really wants to be playing in the centres in this football team or whether he wants to wear the No. 1,” Smith said on SEN Breakfast Radio. “I still have that query. At the end of the day he may want to play fullback but what needs to happen is he needs to play in the position that is going to help the team.”

Stephen Crichton celebrates a try.
Fans are questioning whether Stephen Crichton should play fullback or at centre for the Bulldogs. (Brendon Thorne via Getty Images)

The Bulldogs have a strong left edge with five-eight Matt Burton, winger Josh Addo-Carr and second-rower Viliame Kikau in the line-up. And NRL great Laurie Daley believes the Bulldogs need to do more to maximise their potential. If they can't get Crichton involved then Daley agreed they might need to get him back to fullback.

“If they can’t then they’ve got to find a way to get more out of Stephen Crichton so therefore you might have to look at pushing him back to fullback to get him more involved in the game. You can’t have him sitting out there not getting any ball at all," Daley added.

Josh Addo-Carr injured after round one

The Bulldogs were outplayed and looked disjointed in attack as they hardly threatened the Eels, despite coach Ciraldo claiming he was happy with his team's gritty performance. Unfortunately, Addo-Carr could be in for a spell on the sidelines after injuring his shoulder when he was bundled into touch in the seventh minute.

Phil Gould announced Addo-Carr did not fracture his shoulder, but he could still be missing between two to four weeks. However, the Bulldogs are hoping the winger is sidelined for only a week, which would see him miss next week's clash against the the Sharks.

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