Living the dream: Jack Maddocks and Angus Crichton take friendship to the big stage

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

In their final years of school at Sydney’s Scots College, Jack Maddocks and Angus Crichton were often found at the footy oval.

Each time they went, they would set themselves a challenge from a Youtube clip.

They'd watch a video and then test out what they'd seen on each other for an afternoon.

Little did they know in just five years they’d both have a chance to try out the tricks they’d perfected on the biggest stage of all in the middle of ANZ Stadium - Crichton in State of Origin and Maddocks in a Bledisloe Cup Test.

Though Maddocks now lives in Melbourne, the best mates still share a place when he's back in Sydney and are as close as they were back in their school days.

“We just used to muck around trying to learn things, like how to do this step, we'd just see things on YouTube and be like, 'Alright, let's try and learn to do that’,” Maddocks told RUGBY.com.au.

“A few things - how to bump like Rene Ranger, how to step like Benji Marshall, those sort of guys.

“Even if it's not really in your job description as a player, just adding for the fun of it and it might come in handy one day.

“I think we used to try and step each other a lot, do a lot of footwork stuff and I think as I transitioned into a back three sort of player, definitely that came in handy.”

 

Fam

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Back then, Crichton was already well and truly on the radars of NRL and Super Rugby teams, playing Australian Schoolboys rugby and being chased by the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Maddocks was still an aspiring cricketer, playing rugby just for fun at school, with little inkling it would become his profession.

“I think he (Crichton) was always earmarked as someone who would and he took it pretty seriously - like he wasn't too serious but it was definitely his ambition to make it at pro rugby,” Maddocks said.

“I was a bit less like that, I was very keen and stuff but I didn't really develop until later on.

“I think whilst we dreamed of playing together, I didn't really expect it to be a reality whereas he sort of did.”

It’s not too far-fetched to think the pair could have been sharing the Bledisloe stage as professionals, with Crichton a hot Waratahs prospect before making the decision to commit to the NRL.

Crichton has ticked off a shopping list of rugby league achievements since his 2016 NRL debut, culminating in his Origin debut this year and Maddocks said he was supportive of whatever his long-time friend chose to do.

“He's kicking a lot of goals in league so I'm just happy to see him doing well,” he said.

“Maybe once he's conquered everything he'll come back, but at the moment he's doing really well and it's in his best interests at the moment to keep doing what he's doing because he's going strength to strength and ticking off, gaining more achievements every year.”

Though their careers have put them in different states, the pair are still as close as they were back in those park footy days.

Crichton has become a unique shoulder for Maddocks to lean on, someone who understands ‘the grind’ of professional football but isn’t intimately involved in his rugby environment.

“It's good having someone on the outside, on the periphery, who can look in and sometimes see things for what they are,” he said.

“Same with me talking to him.

 

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“It's good to have someone who you're really close with, who you trust and is also sort of going through the same things you are like they understand the grind and all that sort of stuff but at the same time they're not involved.”

Crichton will be at ANZ as a guest of Rugby Australia watching on as Maddocks looks to make his Bledisloe debut off the Wallabies bench, as Maddocks was when Crichton played in the Sydney State of Origin in June.

The pair’s connection with the Bledisloe goes back a long way - in 2009, the 12-year-olds were running around ANZ Stadium at their first live Test.

The pair were stepping oncomers in the crowd before the game, a 19-18 win for the All Blacks, and the morning after, they had a hilarious own run-in with two Test stars.

“We were running around the stadium, heaps hyped and we were stepping people the whole time, running back to the thing just stepping people because we're heaps energetic,” Maddocks said.

“We ended up staying at the Pullman (across from the stadium) and next morning Ma'a Nonu and Israel Dagg were having breakfast and offered us a beer and we were like 13.

“Ma'a Nonu offered it to us and then Israel Dagg was like, 'Are you serious bro? They're like 10!' and then he was like, ‘What about a juice?’ and we were like, 'Oh yeah, we'll have a juice'.

They got more than just a funny story from that weekend - Crichton has a gift from an All Blacks great sitting in pride of place in their apartment.

“Their kit guy gave Angus Brad Thorn's jersey and now where we live, he's got it framed up, it’s in our living room,” Maddocks said.

Nine years on from that, the two are as competitive as they are close with each other and though they don’t compare footy resumes, there is one outstanding challenge Maddocks wants to try and collect on.

“I challenged him to a running race, which he accepted but we haven't had time to do it. I'll be having it,” he said.

“We’ve got a wager and he’s pretty confident but I’ve been training pretty hard.”

The Wallabies host the All Blacks in the first Bledisoe on Saturday August 18, kicking off at 7.45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO, with the Wallaroos taking on the Black Ferns from 5:15pm AEST as well, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here.