Seven months on from his comments slamming Penrith coach Ivan Cleary for being hypocritical to not release playmaker Matt Burton, Bulldogs sponsor Arthur Laundy has expressed his delight to see the Dubbo product featuring in Sunday's Grand Final.
Laundy looked to criticise the Panthers and Cleary early into the year as Burton was framed as a backup player to a string of Penrith stars.
Burton, who was named at centre in the Dally M Team of the Year on Monday, has played 25 games for the Panthers in 2021 since missing the opening two rounds of the season.
Moving between centre and the halves, Burton has flourished under Cleary in a campaign where he will bid farewell to his teammates following Sunday's premiership decider, having signed with the Bulldogs on a two-year deal from 2022.
The breakout season has seen Laundy reflect on his comments from February, while also stating his pleasure to see Burton in the running to claim a premiership ring.
“When he was not in the 17, I said ‘Don’t stand in his way, let him go. Come out to us, where he could learn from our coach, which will be the case for the next couple of years.’
“That didn’t happen. It hit the press and I know out Penrith way, I was the bad boy and all of that type of thing."
Laundy revealed he had moved to contact Panthers chief executive Brian Fletcher to laud him for sticking with Burton and utilising him at NRL level.
“I contacted their CEO, Brian Fletcher and said ‘Brian, if I have caused any anguish at all, I’m sorry. I absolutely applaud your decision now because he is playing in the right grade,'" Laundy added.
“I’m pleased he has stayed with Penrith now. He’s in there now with a very good chance of winning a competition, which is a lovely thing to be happening for a 21-year-old."
Burton will play a key role in the Panthers' hopes of snapping their 18-year premiership drought, with Cleary's side entering Sunday's showdown as favourites following their win over Melbourne.
Laundy said that Burton's presence in the match, win or lose, will add great experience for the young half.
“If they win on Sunday, it would be a string to his bow, it will be fabulous for him," Laundy said.
“If they don’t win, it will still be that experience of playing in a grand final and the experience of grand final week.”
Burton joins a star-studded recruitment coup for Bulldogs coach Trent Barrett ahead of next season, with the likes of Josh Addo-Carrr, John Asiata, Matt Dufty, Tevita Pangai Junior, Paul Vaughan, Josh Cook and teammate Brent Naden also making the venture to Belmore.