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The Roar


Penrith offered Matt Burton future as a centre

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23rd May, 2021
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Penrith have revealed they tried to keep Matt Burton at the NRL club as a centre before he prioritised playing as a half by signing with Canterbury for 2022.

Penrith tried to offer Matt Burton the lure of becoming the club’s long-term starting centre before he opted to sign with Canterbury for 2022.

Burton starred on his return to his hometown of Dubbo on Sunday, scoring three tries and setting up another in Penrith’s 56-12 flogging of South Sydney.

So good has Burton been playing out wide, calls are starting to grow for the 21-year-old to feature on NSW’s bench for next month’s State of Origin opener.

It’s an incredible rise, given Burton was never regarded as a centre before this year.

A noted five-eighth as one of the best young talents in the game, Burton spent time training in the centres in the pre-season.

It prompted Penrith to make that part of their offer to him, before still using him in the role after Burton opted to head to the Bulldogs.

“We made a real attempt to try and sign him as a centre, but it didn’t come off, unfortunately” Cleary revealed.

“I’m not sure he is out of position from what I can see.


“He is a good player, obviously he can play in the halves but he is looking pretty good out there.

“He was always going to be a big part of our squad. Didn’t exactly know how it would look.

“I always thought there was potential for him to play in the centres, as well as back-up in the halves.”

Burton’s performances have also more than justified Penrith’s decision to hold on to him this year rather than release him to Canterbury early.

He will face his future club on Saturday, playing in the centres again, before going into the halves when Nathan Cleary misses games through Origin.

And while Burton is a Penrith junior who holds the Panthers dear, he said promisee of playing five-eighth full-time was always going to win out.

“(Playing centre) got brought up a few times (in talks) but I think I’m a five-eighth,” Burton said.

“I didn’t (think I was a centre), no chance at all.


“But I’m loving it out there. Just to play (inside) Bizza (Brian To’o) and (outside) Jarome (Luai), it’s pretty special.”