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Crichton happy to dance to his own beat at Penrith despite rival offers

Rising star Stephen Crichton had barely let the ink dry on his new three-year deal at Penrith before he was at the shops searching for a much-needed item leading into the new season.

Crichton forked out $600 for a new loudspeaker box that's become part of the Panthers' preparations after last year's one owned by Brian To'o blew a fuse.

Unofficially, it's believed, through excessive use.

"So I bought a new and even bigger one," Crichton said with a grin.

"We took the first box to the Nines [in February last year] so they know it's us, like a little culture thing, to carry it around and be chill before a game instead of worrying too much about it.

"Most of the boys have their own headphones on anyway so we only have it blaring five minutes before we run out. That's how we like it."

While it can't necessarily be measured how much of an effect a mega speaker blasting the latest tunes can have on players before a match, the Panthers have found energy to not be a problem over the past 12 months.

Coincidence?

"Our team is all about energy and being happy to be where we are," Crichton said.

"It doesn't take much for a couple of the guys to fire up and that brings it out in everyone else. Everyone's got their own stories when they're on the field and are playing for where they came from and their own families."

 
 
 
 
 
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Family, faith and loyalty played a monumental part in Crichton's decision to remain at the Panthers long term.

While speculation of big-money offers from rival clubs came in weekly through the media, Crichton insists he was never tempted to leave Sydney's west.

Among the clubs reportedly chasing him included this Saturday's opponents Canterbury, with former Panthers assistant coach Trent Barrett eager to boost his squad at Belmore after taking on the job.

He'd already landed Penrith young gun Matt Burton's signature for 2022 and beyond but a switch to join his brother Christian at Canterbury never materialised for Crichton.

"He didn't call me like he did with Burto … not with me," Crichton said.

"I spoke to my manager and my parents spoke to them [the Bulldogs] but they were finalising a few things ... I never thought of leaving here.

"It's good that we've got a good crew here for the next three years so it's important to keep building."

After a season to remember in 2020, Crichton's first game back against the Cowboys started shakily with three handling errors early as the adrenaline kicked in.

He's wary that last year's success brings a new challenge of remaining unpredictable this season.

"Our whole edge has spoken about how everyone will be coming after us but it's good if they're watching because we've got a whole other edge of good players who put points on the board too," Crichton said.