Seibold thought Souths would keep Crichton
Angus Crichton has indicated he intends to depart the South Sydney Rabbitohs in a similar fashion to Sam Burgess in 2014 after travelling to Coffs Harbour on Sunday to personally inform club co-owner Russell Crowe that next season would be his last in red and green.
Crichton confirmed the fears of Rabbitohs officials since the boom forward baulked at a three-year offer worth about $2 million in early November when he advised the club on Sunday he had decided to accept a more lucrative deal with Sydney Roosters.
However, the 21-year-old gave assurances he would not be seeking a release from the final year of his contract, which is worth about a quarter of the deal he has reportedly been offered to play elsewhere from 2019.
The manner in which Crichton broke the news to Crowe, coach Anthony Seibold and general manager of football Shane Richardson suggests he aims to finish on a similar note to Burgess, who left for English rugby union at the end of the 2014 season with a premiership ring.
Like Crichton, Burgess announced his departure from Redfern before the next season had started after seeking permission from Crowe to take up an approach by England officials to switch codes before the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
While the Rabbitohs are disappointed to be losing Crichton to the Roosters, at least it isn't going to rugby union, which he had played until the age of 18 and represented Australia at schoolboy level.
He had also played SG Ball for the Roosters in 2014 but reached out to then Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire after being told he would have to wait in line at the NSW Waratahs before being considered for Super Rugby selection.
After 30 NRL matches, Crichton is being touted as a NSW State of Origin prospect and the Rabbitohs made him an offer they considered to be worthy of his potential in the next three seasons but he rejected it soon after the November 1 deadline for him to negotiate with rival clubs.
Despite reported big-money offers from the Roosters and Cronulla Sharks, as well as Rugby Australia, the Rabbitohs stood by the valuation and did not increase their offer.
"I was really confident, myself," Seibold told NRL.com of his belief Crichton would stay. "One thing we can't forget is that Gussy has only played 30 NRL games, so it's only a real snapshot of his career so far."
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After advising Crowe, Seibold and Richardson of his decision on Sunday, Crichton broke the news to teammates before an open training session on Monday at Redfern Oval.
With the players signing merchandise and posing for photos with the fans in attendance, the club kept news of Crichton's defection secret until after the session had finished.
The Roosters have not yet announced Crichton's signing but it is understood he will join the club in 2019 on a three-year deal.
"I don't have any issue with Gussy being here for 2018," Seibold said. "I know he's very committed about staying here for 2018. We expect to see a really positive season from Gussy before he departs.
"One thing I know about Gussy is he's a very dedicated professional … and we expect that to continue."