A major sponsor of the Canterbury Bulldogs has accused Penrith coach Ivan Cleary of being hypocritical after the former Wests coach revealed departing halfback Matt Burton would honour his contract with the Panthers.
Burton is set to join the Bulldogs at the end of the year, but has since been linked to an early release to Belmore following on from manager David Riolo demanding the 20-year-old be granted the move a season prior to the agreed date.
“Penrith have been really good and developed the kid. But both parties should move on, it (will be) better for all of them. He will lose a year of first grade if he stay," Riolo told The Daily Telegraph.
“It is better for Matt Burton. It is better for Bulldogs. And it is better for Penrith because they remove a surplus player who doesn’t really want to be there.
“He wants to be somewhere else.”
Penrith reportedly requested former Maroons prop Dylan Napa in exchange for an early release for Burton, with the Bulldogs rejecting the deal post haste.
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Cleary and the Panthers have stood firm on Burton remaining at the foot of the mountains for the 2021 season, despite the likelihood of limited game time at senior level.
Canterbury sponsor Arthur Laundy has criticised Cleary's decision to hold onto Burton's services after the coach up and left the Tigers in 2018 whilst having two years remaining on his contract at Concord.
“If Matt was going to play first grade all season then I could absolutely understand why the Panthers want to retain him,” Laundy said, per Fox Sports.
“But if he’s only going to be a back-up player and get an opportunity here and there well that’s a different story.