Crichton's rise with new Wallabies winger Maddocks
Almost a decade ago now, a couple of 12-year-old kids started running, stepping and tackling drills on the back fields of Scots College in Sydney's East.
On Wednesday night, the bush boy sent off to boarding school will trot out in front of 80,000 fans at the MCG, wearing sky blue for the first time.
By Saturday, the city kid who had him round every weekend could well be doing the same at Suncorp Stadium in green and gold.
So goes the story of NSW rookie Angus Crichton and Wallabies squad member Jack Maddocks, the lifelong mates, born on the same day a year apart, now preparing for the biggest occasions of their sporting lives.
Thick as thieves since their pre-teens, Crichton's NRL debut came 24 hours after Maddocks cracked a Super Rugby start with Melbourne Rebels.
A couple of days after Brad Fittler lit up Crichton's phone, Australian national coach Michael Cheika was reading out Maddocks' name for the upcoming June Tests against Ireland.
The twin call-ups cap a roundabout rise for the pair, with Crichton a schoolboy rugby star before switching to the 13-man game, and Maddocks a NSW junior cricketer before finding himself in contention for a Wallabies wing spot.
"I called him up, he was stoked as and we've been talking throughout the week. I hope he plays, we've been the best of mates for ages," Crichton told NRL.com.
"We used to do one-on-one sessions and little training runs, trying to step each other and what not.
"We got to play together a couple of times at school and I always said to him ever since we were in year 11, year 12, I always thought that he was a better footy player than he was a cricketer, but he always thought cricket was his game.
"He grew up as a small kid and he was always a five-eighth and ball-player. He always had the best pass growing up.
"The other day we were talking about it and he said 'you always thought I was a better footy player when I thought I was s—t', so I put his rise down to me giving him that confidence."
With the Wallabies going into camp before Saturday's showdown with the Irish and Maddocks hoping to jag a bench spot, this is the one week Crichton won't catch up with his old school mate in his adopted town of Melbourne.
Two other key figures from the 22-year-old's school days - Delwyn and Leon Wunungmurra of Anrhem land in the Northern Territory – will also be proudly watching Crichton's arrival on the rep scene from afar.
Having taken the two indigenous boys under his wing when they arrived at Scots years ago, Crichton's wawa (brother in their local dialect) checked in after hearing of his NSW debut.
"I spoke to the boys last week when I made the team, one of the boys is a big Maroons fan because he loves GI," Crichton grins.
"He said congrats but up the Maroons. The friendship only goes so far. They'll all be watching, they've got the TV ready and it's very cool to have them with me for this game.
"I'll get back up there at the end of the year to do some more clinics and see the boys again too."
With an amputated finger, big-money Roosters move and now an Origin debut, Crichton has seen a host of headlines in the last six months alone.
But with a strong connection to Indigenous culture and a yolngu family for life up north, he wants to continue spreading awareness of Aboriginal history, starting with self-produced videos of his travels and time spent in Arnhem land.
"A lot of people don't know what it's like up there or too much about our first nation people in general," Crichton says.
"There's a lot that we as Australians can learn and take out of their culture and put into our everyday life. Just their values and those Australian traditions, it's good for everyone to hear.
"The backgrounds and cultures of these guys can get lost but it's so strong up there so it's a cool story to share."
Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Bronze tickets available from $49 here.