“I got a call from Parry about six minutes after the team was announced. He told me I was in the side and that I had to pack my bag to get into camp.
“I was actually on the way to dinner with my girlfriend. She way happy for me to get selected but I think I have some making up to do to get back in the good books.”
He may have some work to do with his girlfriend but Crichton is clearly in Fittler’s good books.
His selection – like fellow young gun Nathan Cleary – was based on loyalty more than form.
If Fittler was purely selecting on form, Ryan Matterson would have nabbed the final spot on the bench and Crichton would have been 18th man – not the other way around.
That is not lost on Crichton, who wasn’t certain he would be picked, either.
“I wasn’t sure I would be here. Obviously to be here now, I’m stoked,” he said.
“I’m loving the opportunity to be here. I will be putting a big effort in and make sure I am playing my best footy on Wednesday.”
Part of the reasoning in retaining Crichton, rather than draft Matterson straight into the 17, lies in the familiarity the Roosters recruit has with the core of this NSW team.
There is an obvious bond between the team Fittler handpicked last year and Crichton puts that down to one reason.
“The group of guys that we have here… Freddy and the coaching staff have done such a good job of picking guys who are good footy players but more importantly, guys who are genuinely just good people,” he said.
“I was like a kid in a candy store [last year]. I was frothing at the mouth.
“All the players around me, all week, big game, big crowd, big occasion, playing for your state in State of Origin – it doesn’t get much better than that.
“I grew up watching it and coming back in here, I feel like a kid again. It’s the exact same feeling.”
Sam is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.