South Sydney Rabbitohs back-rower Angus Crichton has reassured fans of his commitment to the club in 2018 following his decision to depart at season's end.
The 21-year-old spoke for the first time at the NSW Emerging Blues camp at ANZ Stadium on Saturday about his goals to help springboard the Rabbitohs back into finals contention following two disappointing years.
Crichton is set to take up a long-term offer with arch-rivals Sydney Roosters from 2019 although he and the Bondi club have not formally announced the deal.
His decision to leave the Bunnies has received mixed reaction among NRL fans, none more so than his own supporter base.
"It's something I was aware was going to happen," Crichton told NRL.com.
"Something that as a player you have to expect and get used to. I try not to read into it too much and buy into what a lot of people were saying.
"The thing for me is if the people I really care about – my family, players I will play with this year, the coaches and close mates – if they all understand where I'm coming from and what's going on with me then I'm happy.
"I had to do what was best for myself."
Crichton said no one should question his commitment to the Rabbitohs for the upcoming season.
"There's never any lack of motivation for me," Crichton said.
"We've got Greg's return to play, (Dane) Gagai's first year, John Sutton's possible last and 300 games, and last year playing with Sammy Burgess.
"I'm excited to make 2018 the best I've had and working hard to make sure this year is the best I can make it for the Rabbitohs and squeeze out as much as I can."
Such is the commitment to the Bunnies in 2018, Crichton made international headlines after amputating a finger over the off-season in a bid to be fit for the team's opening game of the season against the New Zealand Warriors in Perth.
"A lot of people think it was a spur of the moment decision but it's been going on for three years," Crichton said.
"The alternative was a joint replacement which was less chance of healing and a six-month recovery.
"I did it to play. My wound is still healing but I'll be back to full training next week."
Crichton joined 37 other up-and-coming hopefuls looking to break into the Blues line-up in 2018 at a one-day camp under the guidance of NSW coach Brad Fittler and a host of former Origin greats in Andrew Johns, Danny Buderus and Greg Alexander.
With a rugby union background, the occasion marked the first representative experience for the elusive back-rower.
"I haven't played any rep footy in league before so being included in this camp and around some of the greats is exciting," Crichton said.
"I've never played alongside blokes like Nathan Cleary or Mitchell Moses so it's cool after playing against them week in and week out, to be able to get to know them on a personal level and hopefully play with them in the future."