NRL Rd 5 - Eels v Panthers
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 12: Matt Burton of the Panthers is tackled during the round five NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Penrith Panthers at Bankwest Stadium on June 12, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Penrith coach Ivan Cleary has claimed that young gun Matt Burton is unlikely to cross to Canterbury this season and that the utility is just one of a handful of stars set to be retained by the club, per a report from NRL.com‘s Dan Walsh.

Walsh stated that the Bulldog’s plans to grab Burton via an early release folded swiftly after Penrith’s request for Origin forward Dylan Napa in a direct player swap was rebuffed.

Canterbury’s counteroffer of an anonymous forward was also reportedly rejected.

With it now appearing unlikely that the Dubbo born Burton will join the ‘Berries’ anytime before 2022, the 20-year-old can expect to share the field again with names like Jarome Luai, Stephen Crichton and Isaah Yeo.

According to Walsh, deals for the aforementioned trio are well advanced, with the Panthers committing multiple millions of dollars to retain their young core from last season.

Both Luai and Crichton are expected to ink new deals in the near future that will keep the pair with Penrith for the new three seasons.

The combined contract price of these deals is said to be just shy of $4 million.

Yeo’s deal is said to be further from completion, however, the co-captain and his coach remain confident that it will be completed prior to the commencement of this season.

When quizzed about his current status, the 27-year-old club stalwart was nonplussed.

“We’re going through all that at the minute,” Yeo said, per NRL.com.

“That would be the goal, to be a one-club player but that only happens as you get older.

“I’m not worried about that, I’m worried about this year and trying to get my next contract sorted over the coming weeks. I’d like it all done before the season starts and that’ll be the plan.

“There’d be a lot of players that say [they want to be a one club player] and it doesn’t work out.

“This next contract will take me to 30 and if that’s the case I definitely will be a senior player by then.”

Although 2021 will be Burton’s last season at the foot of the Blue Mountain, Ivan Cleary remains assured that he can play a key role in helping the Panthers go a step further this season.

Burton has been tipped to line up in the centres or as a utility if a deal with the Bulldogs cannot be struck.

“I’ve said all along that Matt’s a really valuable member of our squad,” Cleary said.

“We really value him as a person and a player. If you keep getting asked which we have, they keep asking the question, I suppose there’s always something that might make a deal happen.

“But realistically there hasn’t been so I’m not too sure what all the fuss is about.

“Matt’s part of our team and there’s never been any inkling he’s going to leave.”

Despite his employer seeking the services of Napa in exchange for Burton, Cleary remained realistic about the proposed deal.

“If you keep getting asked, of course you throw out something that may make a deal happen, but I don’t think that was ever going to happen.

“There was just a bit of talk there but nope.”

With multiples big names such as Whare, Tamou, Mansour and Tetevano exiting the club at the end of last year, Penrith’s roster has had a facelift in the off-season.

Due to this change in appearance, even Cleary remained uncertain as to how many roster positions he had at his disposal when asked on Tuesday.

NRL clubs have until March 1 to have 28 players signed for the upcoming season.