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Christian Crichton's eyes lit up when he saw younger brother Stephen with the ball in his hands. 

If this was a game of backyard footy, he'd line him up and bury him into the turf, but this is a NSW Blues opposed session and Christian is under strict instructions. 

The older Crichton has been invited in as a member of the St Marys Saints, the team lining up against the Blues to assist in their preparations for next week's State of Origin decider. Big hits are off the table. 

"I jammed in a few times there, but not being full contact, I would love to whack him [but I couldn’t]," Christian Crichton said. 

"Being around the Blues camp and being their preparation, we just want to do our job to make sure they're getting out of the session what they need to. We're not trying to hurt the boys."

Brothers Christian and Stephen Crichton share a moment after Thursday's opposed session.
Brothers Christian and Stephen Crichton share a moment after Thursday's opposed session. ©NRL Photos

While he may not boast the resume of his younger brother, Christian is a handy footballer in his own right. 

The winger played in 34 games for Penrith and Canterbury from 2018 to 2022 before taking a step back and now runs around for the Saints in third-tier competition Ron Massey Cup. 

He's watched on with pride as Stephen has taken his career to the next level and developed into a genuine superstar at the Bulldogs this season. 

It's hard to believe given he's arguably the best player in the game, but the centre grew up playing division two and few thought he was destined for the NRL. 

A growth spurt helped, but Christian said it was his brother's dedication and willingness to outwork his rivals that laid the foundation for his current success. 

"He wasn’t the best player but he just liked to work, he’d train and work hard," he said. "Over the years with good coaching he’s been able to pick up things and continued to learn and get better. That’s what has got him to where he is today, hard work and always being keen to learn.

"The thing about him is he’s just always keen to learn and that’s what’s developed his game throughout the years. He’s like a sponge, he just wants to learn, it’s got him to where he is, so he’s not too afraid to fail."

The Blues lined up without centre Bradman Best for the session as he continues to navigate hamstring tightness. The youngster is expected to train with the squad at their next session on Saturday. 

NSW has brought in 18th man Matt Burton as his replacement, while Joseph-Aukuso Sua'ali'i also travelled to the Blue Mountains to plug some gaps throughout the session. 

The youngster was sent off just seven minutes into his Origin debut but has been welcomed into the fold for Games Two and Three. Sua'ali'i, who has now served his suspension, is expected to remain in camp for the remainder of the week and travel to Brisbane with the team.

Joseph-Aukuso Sua'ali'i joined the Blues in camp and trained with the side on Thursday.
Joseph-Aukuso Sua'ali'i joined the Blues in camp and trained with the side on Thursday. ©NRL Photos

NSW halfback Mitchell Moses said Sua'ali'i's willingness to join the team despite not playing is a sign of the culture coach Michael Maguire has built in his first season in charge of the Blues. 

"You look at Joey for instance, he's come in and been suspended for the last few weeks," Moses said. 

"He's probably got every right to go, 'nah, I'm just going to relax and worry about the Roosters'. He's come in and put the team first and been a help wherever he could be.

"It's putting the squad first and putting the jersey first."

Match: Maroons v Blues

Game 3 -

Maroons

home Team

Maroons

Blues

away Team

Blues

Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

Match broadcasters:

  • WatchNRL

The opposed session came as the Blues did their best to replicate the hostile reception that will greet them at Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday night. 

Officials set up speakers around the field and blasted crowd noise, drums and music through them to drown out the players' calls on the field. 

Moses said it was a good opportunity to establish clear lines of communication before the side travels into enemy territory. 

"We were getting used to the noise," he said. "It’s going to be loud up there. It’s just helping us be able to adapt to the noise, being able to talk out there to each other.

"We’re focused on being extra clear in talking to each other about what we need to do and where we need to get to."

 

Acknowledgement of Country

Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs respect and honour the Darug and Eora nations, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.