Angus Crichton has taken one for the team. Picture:  Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos
Angus Crichton has taken one for the team. Picture: Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

Roosters star opens up on shock backline switch

"YOU'VE got to put the jersey and the locker room ahead of yourself."

With those words Sydney Roosters star Angus Crichton has explained his move to centre as Latrell Mitchell's replacement for Sunday morning's World Club Challenge final against Super League champions St Helens.

Crichton hasn't played centre since his schoolboy rugby days and wasn't expecting the positional switch despite the club losing Mitchell to the Rabbitohs and rookie Billy Smith with a knee injury.

"If I'm being honest I was a bit surprised," he said.

"I wasn't expecting it but I'm the kind of person who is always up for a challenge.

"You can see good things in all of these situations. It's an opportunity for me to up my skill set and improve myself physically with speed and footwork."

It was two weeks ago when Roosters coach Trent Robinson quietly tapped him on the shoulder about moving from the forwards.

It had been anticipated that Brett Morris would move to the centres.

Crichton will switch to centre in 2020. Picture: Craig Golding/AAP
Crichton will switch to centre in 2020. Picture: Craig Golding/AAP

"Given the situation we're in now with Latrell and then Billy and whatever's going on with Josh Morris, for me to be part of this team, to be part of this club, you have to put the jersey and the locker room ahead of yourself," Crichton said.

"If that means playing centre for a few weeks, months, however long, I'm happy to do that for the team."

His team-first attitude says a lot about the Roosters' culture and how impressively Crichton has progressed in just 12 months at the premiership winners.

"When I came here last year there was a lot of external pressure and internal pressure as well," he says, "I'm far more settled in now.

Crichton won a premiership in his first year as a Rooster. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Crichton won a premiership in his first year as a Rooster. Picture: Phil Hillyard

"I've been doing a heap of video to prepare to play centres. I'll train go back and watch the whole session, look at what I need to improve on and take it into the next session. I've been training here for a couple of weeks now.

"Physically I am capable. But the last few weeks for me has been about defending there. Two men out wider than I'm used to."

The Roosters are trying to become the first team to win five world club challenges. They sit equal with St Helens on four victories.

It is a huge opportunity for Crichton to press claims for a Kangaroo tour start at the end of the season in the UK.

Coach Mal Meninga has a particular liking for players who can handle more than one position.

All eyes will be on the Roosters new halves combination of Luke Keary and Kyle Flanagan, debuting at the Roosters in Cooper Cronk's old jersey.

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