BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 03: Stephen Crichton of the Panthers celebrates with Paul Momirovski of the Panthers after winning the 2021 NRL Grand Final match between the Penrith Panthers and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at Suncorp Stadium on October 03, 2021, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

He hasn’t even started his tenure as Bulldogs head coach, but reports are already emerging that Cameron Ciraldo may try and bring some Panthers with him to Belmore next year.

Ciraldo signed a five-year deal to take the reins of the Canterbury club from Mick Potter starting in 2023, and there are reports he might be tempted by the Panthers roster he currently works with as he looks to add depth to the Bulldogs’ ranks in the next few years.

The Australian’s Brent Read believes Ciraldo’s first target could be Origin rep Stephen Crichton, saying the Panthers outside back’s long-standing desire to play in the No.1 could be a decisive factor in the matter. Crichton has played the role just six times in his 74 NRL games at Penrith.

Crichton is off-contract at the end of next year, meaning he’d be free to negotiate with the Bulldogs from November 1.

“Crichton would love to play fullback, and Canterbury need one,” Read told Triple M Radio.

“He’s the one guy who would not surprise me at all if we see him at Canterbury in 2024.

“In 2024 the Bulldogs have so much salary cap room it’s not funny.”

Read also revealed that Ciraldo will not be bound by any clauses in the deal that would stop him from poaching some of the current Panthers roster on his way out, unlike the conditions that were applied to Wayne Bennett’s exit from South Sydney to join the Dolphins.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 11: Panters player Nathan Cleary and coach Cameron Ciraldo speak to media after the round 22 NRL match between the Gold Coast Titans and the Penrith Panthers at Cbus Super Stadium on August 11, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

“I rang the Panthers and spoke to Brian Fletcher,” said Read.

“I asked if there were any rules around Cameron approaching (Panthers) players.

“They said ‘no, we aren’t going to do that, we trust him, he’s a genuine guy and he’s been here a long time. We don’t think he’d do anything wrong by us.’”

Read claims that Crichton exploring his contract options at the same time as the Ciraldo deal was being devised meant clubs believed that the two might come together.

“When Cameron was talking to other clubs… Stephen was talking to other clubs,” Read said.

“There was talk, not that Crichton would come with him, but that he’d be one bloke who would be tempted to follow.”