Angus Crichton's return to the NRL is imminent according to Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson, months after the 27-year-old's diagnosis of bipolar disorder was made public. It was announced Crichton would be on an indefinite leave of absence from the Roosters at the start of the year, with the back rower's return an exciting revelation for Sydney fans.
Crichton will return through reserve grade this week, with a potential NRL return on the cards the week after, depending on how he pulls up this weekend. Robinson credited Crichton for doing his best to maintain his fitness throughout his absence.
There had been fears earlier in the year that Crichton may not return at all this season - however Robinson said Crichton had been well supported not only by club staff, but also by his teammates. The veteran coach said it was important to acknowledge that 'we're human, we're imperfect'.
“The plan is for him to get started and go back and play back row and somewhere between 50 to 80 minutes depending on how the game goes,” Robinson said. “We will see how the game goes, but just to get him back going.
“He has been in really good shape. He has been really good at training, so it is time to start playing. He missed a lot of that pre-season period and you can’t replicate that during the season, so we need to ramp it up through reserve grade and him with a couple of other guys as well.”
Robinson said Crichton's NRL return would be informed by how he pulls up after his reserve grade hitout, but said he was very confident in the level of fitness the 27-year-old had maintained during his leave of absence. Tri Colours prop Lindsay Collins praised Crichton weeks earlier for having the courage to step away from the game and seek the help that he needs.
"He's just stepped away and recognised that he needs to get help," Collins said. "He's getting the help that he needs and when he's right, he'll be back."
Trent Robinson thankful for Angus Crichton response
Robinson said he was appreciative of the way the rugby league community had reacted by and large, not just Sydney Roosters fans, after details of Crichton's absence were made known. He said it was an encouraging sign of maturity.
“To be honest, I think our game has been very good with that, and our players have been, right across the board, all teams, have been really good about [it],” Robinson said. “We’re human, we’re imperfect, and I think there’s no better place than rugby league to know that’s the case, and people accept that.
“We often have people around us and stories of family and friends, so I just think he will be straight back into it as normal.”
Crichton's diagnosis of bipolar disorder was confirmed by his father Charlie earlier this year, when it was revealed he would begin his leave of absence. Details of the diagnosis were confirmed via a statement.
“I can confirm that Angus is under appropriate professional support and treatment for medically diagnosed bipolar disorder, which he has been dealing with for some time,” the statement read.
“He is fully supported by his family, his management and the Sydney Roosters club as he works towards recovery.”
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