NRL Rd 1 - Cowboys v Bulldogs
TOWNSVILLE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 13: Matt Burton of the Bulldogs speaks to the media before the start of the round one NRL match between the North Queensland Cowboys and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Qld Country Bank Stadium, on March 13, 2022, in Townsville, Australia. (Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

Canterbury Bulldogs star Matt Burton will reportedly test the open market after November 1 as he looks for a significant upgrade in salary.

The youngster, who shifted to Belmore from the Penrith Panthers at the start of this year, originally moved on a two-year contract, with a player option for 2024.

That means that, like every other player who is off-contract at the end of 2023 without a confirmed tie to a new club, he can negotiate and field offers from other teams from November 1.

And The Daily Telegraph are reporting that is exactly what he will do, although there is no certainty that it would see him leave Belmore - only that the men in blue and white, led by director of football Phil Gould, would need to splash a lot more cash than what they are currently paying to retain Burton long-term.

The young gun was seen as one of their marquee signings ahead of the 2022 season as the club overhauled their roster, with Burton moving into the halves at the Bulldogs after playing out of position in the centres during the 2021 premiership winning season at the Penrith Panthers.

The Bulldogs have made a tough start to the season with Burton in the halves, however, the club are known to want to retain Burton - who they got on a bargain deal at Gould's own admission - from the Panthers before he had become an established first grader nearly 12 months before he was officially off-contract.

Where it gets intriguing is the Bulldogs' salary cap position, which is well known to be stretched.

Following more than ten signings for 2022, the club have already added Viliame Kikau and Reed Mahoney for 2023, meaning retaining Burton for 2024 could be easier said than done as the men in blue and white attempt to balance the book and return the club up the ladder after a number of dismal years in rugby league wasteland.

Burton is seen as the key to that, but it may take the club to shed other talent to keep him, having started the year strongly in the five-eighth position despite Canterbury's form.