The Penrith Panthers remain persistent on keeping young half Matt Burton at the foot of the mountains, so much so that they believe the 21-year-old could be having ‘second thoughts’ on his move to Canterbury.
Burton signed a two-year deal to join the Bulldogs from 2022 in November last year and was in the middle of heated fight between Penrith and Canterbury as both clubs looked to secure his services for this season.
The promising halfback remained with the Panthers to see out his contract and has since thrived in his make-shift role in the centres under Ivan Cleary.
Burton has been formidable to Penrith as they remain perched atop the NRL ladder after an undefeated start to the season from the opening seven rounds.
Just spoke with Matt Burton. He's still very much committed to the Bulldogs next year. He's enjoying playing centre right now but ultimately wants to play halfback. He's also happy he's staying at Penrith this season to further his development #PantherPride
— Nathan Taylor (@NateTaylor87) April 20, 2021
His breakout campaign has left the Panthers desperate to retain his services past 2021, with club chief executive Brian Fletcher telling The Sydney Morning Herald that Burton would be best suited remaining in Penrith.
“For his development and his future, he would be far better staying with us next year,” Fletcher said.
“He’s a young bloke and his future would be assured here. He will keep climbing the ladder with us. I don’t know if that will be the case at the Bulldogs.
“One player can’t win games on his own.
“They [Bulldogs] wanted him to break his contract this year and had conversations with him about it.
“We just want the same opportunity to have the conversations with him now.
— NRL (@NRL) June 5, 2020
“He’s only young. His career wouldn’t have gone ahead as far if we hadn’t looked after him and developed him.”
The Bulldogs would have to release Burton from his contract should they allow him to remain with the Panthers.
Trent Barrett’s side are doubtful to allow such a move given their contrasting start to the season.
The Bulldogs currently sit in 16th after a 0-6 start and ill be looking to the future as Barrett looks to build on his young list.
Canterbury will welcome Burton and Melbourne superstar Josh Addo-Carr at the end of this season, but will have to deal with as many as 16 players currently yet to commit for the 2022 season in the meantime.