Stephen Crichton's post-match act towards Nicho Hynes as NRL star caught in ugly backlash

The actions of the Bulldogs captain towards his Cronulla counterpart have come to light.

Stephen Crichton has shown his class in a brilliant post-match gesture for Nicho Hynes that wasn't picked up by TV cameras. Hynes is facing more ugly backlash after missing a field goal from right in front that would have won the Sharks the game against the Bulldogs.

Instead, it was Matt Burton who ended up as the hero, after he nailed his third field-goal attempt of the game to give the Bulldogs a 15-14 victory on Friday night. Hynes' miss has done nothing to dispel claims he can't perform under pressure, after he also missed a tricky sideline conversion after the siren in a 30-28 loss to the Dolphins two weeks ago.

Stephen Crichton and Nicho Hynes.
Stephen Crichton checked on Nicho Hynes as he was making his way from the field. Image: AAP/Getty

He was then dumped from the NSW State of Origin team, and watched from home as Mitchell Moses produced a masterclass to lead the Blues to victory in Game 2. Hynes would have been keen for a big performance on Friday night to silence his critics, but he also missed two conversions out of three attempts - which proved costly.

Nicho Hynes, pictured here after Cronulla's loss to the Bulldogs.
Nicho Hynes looks on after Cronulla's loss to the Bulldogs. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Fans have been quick to pile on Hynes on social media, and Bulldogs supporters were reportedly heckling him as he made his way off the ground on Friday night. But a brilliant act of class from Crichton has since come to light, with journalist Adam Pengilly revealing the Bulldogs captain sought out Hynes to make sure he was okay as he left the field.

"As Nicho Hynes was being heckled by Bulldogs fans as he went up the tunnel, Stephen Crichton ran after him to offer some words of encouragement," Pengilly wrote on social media. "He then returned to the field for media duties and to be with teammates. Class act."

Crichton has been Hynes' teammate in both of the games he's played for NSW (one in 2023 and one in 2024). Unfortunately they've both resulted in Blues losses, and Hynes has been axed after both.

One person wrote on social media: "Stephen Crichton, seriously impressive lately on the field. Humble enough to remove himself from the spotlight to make sure someone else is ok. I like this guy a lot. To be great at footy is one thing, to be a star and continue to put others first is a trait possessed by very few."

Another person commented about Crichton: "He’s a real leader. Blues Origin captain next year if not next match."

Hynes will need to pick up the pieces and bounce back for the Sharks, who have slipped to third on the ladder after leading the competition a month ago. "It's going to shape him," Sharks coach Craig Fitzgibbon said after the game. "He's got to go through it, it's part of the responsibility for him. He's accepting of that. He's been stung before, he's carried his divots a little bit but the last couple of weeks, he acknowledges it.

"It'll sting, of course it's going to sting, but I feel like he's ready to keep going after the moments. He didn't shy away from it, he put himself in position, but he's got to ice it."

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As for Burton, his response to being dumped by the Blues couldn't have been any different. The five-eighth was 18th man in Origin 1, and many thought he would come into the 17 on the bench in Game 2. But he was left out of the squad completely.

"I didn't want to let it affect me too much so I just went back and put my head down and did what I could for the Bulldogs here," he said after his match-winning heroics. "It was obviously disappointing, but I just had to put my head down and keep going and not really think about it too much. I think I've got a goldfish memory as it is, so it doesn't worry me too much."