Why Penrith shouldn’t release Matt Burton

19 Mar 21, 8:41AM 0 Comments

Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk

Photo by Getty Images

Since the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs officially announced that they had signed Matt Burton for the 2022 NRL season, speculation has been rampant that the half has been seeking a release to join the Bulldogs a year early.

These rumours have sparked the Bulldogs faithful into action, as #freeburton has popped up on social media.

However, it would be in the best interests of Burton, the Bulldogs and the Panthers for the Dubbo native to stay in Penrith for the rest of the year.

First of all, Burton is contracted to the Panthers until the end of this season and will feature for the mountain men at some point during the season.

Nathan Cleary has been the New South Wales Origin halfback since 2018, and it’s unlikely that he will be overlooked for that role in 2021, meaning that Burton will be taking his place during that period in June and July.

Understandably, the New South Wales under 20’s Origin representative wants to leave early to become a consistent first-grade player, but patience is a virtue as his time will come in 2022.

Matt Burton playing for the Panthers

At just 21-years-old, Burton can afford to spend the rest of the season improving his game in the New South Wales cup at one of the best Rugby League systems in the country.

History tells us that players who break into first grade later than the status quo generally experience success, with the likes of Cody Walker and Jamal Fogarty being examples of this.

Canterbury Bankstown would also benefit from Burton remaining at the Panthers until the end of this season.

At the moment, the Bulldogs have a squad brimming with young talent who have just made their respective debuts for the club, and if their most recent game against Newcastle is anything to go by, they still need time to gel and continue to develop both as a unit and individually.

Bringing Matt Burton into the fold just means that Trent Barrett has to fit yet another inexperienced talent into his new-look squad and make the on-field chemistry building process even longer.

The Bulldogs would be much better off allowing their current crop of talent time to get better as a unit and for each player to cement their role in the team, then Burton can join a club with a set formula and learn to adapt, instead of being one of many players trying to find where they fit in.

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