Souths Forward Crichton Breaking The Mould
This article first appeared on NRL.com.
South Sydney back-rower Angus Crichton isn't your typical… well, anything really.
The powerfully-built 21-year-old was born in Temora, about five hours drive west of Sydney, played his junior footy for the Young Cherrypickers, and came to Sydney on his own as a 13-year-old to be a boarder at the prestigious Scots College as a schoolboy rugby star.
That's already an unusual start for a rugby league player.
But consider that in Year 10 Crichton took it on himself to befriend two younger boys from his boarding house at Scots, Leon and Delwyn Wunungmurra. Indigenous kids from Arnhem Land, whose background was so remote they barely spoke English or understood about deodorant and toothbrushes.
He wasn't told to. It just seemed like the right thing to do. Crichton himself had never been in a taxi or used a laptop computer until he arrived in the big smoke – it's not quite growing up in remote Arnhem Land but he reckons he could relate a bit and six years on he insists he's got more benefit from the friendship than the Wunungmurras.
It speaks to a level of maturity and compassion that would be rare in any teenage boy.
It was well-documented that Crichton spent time in the off-season visiting the Wunungmurras' backyard in the Northern Territory, and that they helped design his Indigenous Round boots.
As his career continues to flourish as a big-minute starting back-rower, Crichton again headed out to do some work in the Indigenous community in South Sydney's bye last week, accompanying teammate Cody Walker to Walker's home town of Grafton.
"Monday and Tuesday last week I went back to Cody Walker's home town," Crichton said.
"We went to Grafton and McLean for a little promo, see all the kids up there, went to a school and training. It was my first time up that way and it was refreshing seeing some good country rugby league."
It was Crichton's first time in Grafton but reminded him of growing up in Young, when it was a he treat to have any professional sportspeople visit the town and put smiles on all the kids' faces.
"That was my first opportunity to get to do that from the other side so it was pretty fun!" he added.
Crichton also expanded on his relationship with Leon and Delwyn.
"I think being grounded helps your sport and having good values and that kind of thing. It's a different culture so I've been exposed to their culture a bit and how they go about things," Crichton said.
"One of them's back home working now, he's bought himself a ute so he's paying that off. The other one is in Year 12 at the moment. He's been offered a plumbing apprenticeship actually for next year. He's told me he's moving in with me next year so we'll see what could happen there!
"It's very rewarding. I had a big impact on their life but [they made a] massive impact on my life as well. I get just as much out of it as those boys do. I've learned so much from them just in how to act and how to be as a person."
When he first encountered them, they were in Year 8 and Crichton was in Year 10 in the same boarding house at Scots.
"They had very limited English, didn't know about having showers, brushing their teeth, deodorant, washing their clothes. They came from a really different community," Crichton recalled.
"I remember when I moved up to Sydney I'd never been in a taxi or used a laptop so I was kind of in a similar boat to them but not as extreme. When I saw them kind of struggling in the big smoke I thought I could help these kids out and since then it's more of a friendship really."