The Canterbury Bulldogs have confirmed Stephen Crichton will take over as captain in his first season at the club.

The former Penrith Panthers centre, who will play fullback at the Bulldogs in 2024 if all reports - and the club's pre-season challenge team list for this weekend - are to be believed, will lead from the front in his new role.

Coach Cameron Ciraldo said Crichton has impressed during his time with the Bulldogs in the pre-season, labelling the New South Wales representative as a "good reader of energy."

“Stephen is a really good reader of energy. He understands when people are a little bit flat, low on energy, and when it's a bit quiet, and he can change the mood in an instant. Sometimes that's with some annoying music or sounds, or loud noises that he comes up with but he's great at bringing people together,” Ciraldo said in a club statement.

“He really understands bringing positive energy to the group and he's been such a valuable asset to us this pre-season.”

The star centre now fullback said he wanted to lead with his actions during 2024.

“I just want to lead with my actions,” Crichton said.

“I've been at a successful Club and I've seen what good leaders look like and I've learnt a lot from the older boys that I was with and I've taken a few things from each person that I can implement in my life on and off the field, as well as in being a leader.

“Going into the camp I knew straight away the boys were nervous and I knew that my communication and leadership could bring the boys up a bit and make them excited.

“I was looking at the back end of the camp, when camp was finished, and where this team could go to and I knew that they needed a leader to get them through the camp. So, I just kind of took on that role from the start.

“We have a lot of leaders that were talking through camp just as much as me, and I wasn't trying to put that pressure just on me, I leaned on them, the other senior boys, just as much as they were leaning on myself.”

Crichton, who comes to the club on big money and on the back of a staring role at the Panthers where he was one of the competition's best centres, takes over from Matt Burton and Reed Mahoney.

Ciraldo confirmed that Mahoney and Burton agreed the way forward was to have Ciraldo as captain in 2024, while also stating they will remain leaders within the team.

“Reed [Mahoney] and Burto [Matt Burton] have played integral roles in setting the foundation for our team's success, both on and off the field. They did an exceptional job being thrown in the deep end last year and put their hands up during a challenging year to help guide our young squad. There were a lot of lessons and learnings out of last year and both Reed and Burto will be better from the experience of it,” Ciraldo said.

“Reed and Burto's professionalism and commitment to this team needs to be acknowledged and commended. They very much remain leaders in this group."

Canterbury open their season with a Round 1 clash against local rivals the Parramatta Eels on Saturday, March 9 at 5:30pm (AEDT), but will first take on the Cronulla Sharks in Week 2 of the pre-season challenge at Belmore this week.

Crichton will lead his new side against his former one in Round 10 when Canterbury travel to the foot of the mountains on Friday, May 10.