NRL Rd 19 - Bulldogs v Titans
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 24: Matt Burton of the Bulldogs celebrates with team mates after scoring a try during the round 19 NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Gold Coast Titans at CommBank Stadium, on July 24, 2022, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

Throwback to the start of last season, and you'll see Matt Burton in Penrith's NSW Cup side, biding his time before he could depart for a starting spot.

Now, Burton is on the cusp of a touted $3 million extension to remain at Belmore, but not before he wins a World Cup representing Australia, that is.

Burton spent the opening two rounds of 2021 playing five-eighth in reserve grade while Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary dominated the NRL, a Round 3 call-up in the halves after Cleary was ruled out with concussion propelling him into first-grade.

NSWRL Rd 2 - Mounties v Panthers
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 20: Matt Burton of the Panthers runs the ball during the round two NSWRL match between the Mounties and the Penrith Panthers at Bankwest Stadium, on March 20, 2021, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Shifting to the centres the next week, Burton wouldn't miss another game in 2021 as he played a massive role in Penrith's first title in 18 years.

As he prepares to fly to England for his maiden World Cup, the five-eighth is nearing a decent pay bump for his current $500,000 per season deal, Canterbury reportedly tabling a four-year deal exceeding the $3 million marl.

It's a stunning turnaround after Trent Barrett's departure left Burton happy to test his value on November 1st, though it's believed the signature of Cameron Ciraldo was the icing on the cake that convinced the Dubbo product to remain in Belmore.

While Burton's focus is solely on the World Cup as it stands, he's confident a new deal with the Bulldogs isn't far off.

“I haven't spoken too much about [Canterbury's offer] but I'm pretty sure, based on what I have heard, that we'll get something done,” Burton told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“The World Cup makes it a bit hard to have those conversations, so I'm happy to go enjoy the tour and leave it for the moment. I'll come back and we'll get it all sorted it.”

Asked if he saw himself in Canterbury colours for the long term, Burton said: “Definitely. I can see it getting done, that's what I want. But we'll get it sorted after the World Cup.”

NSW v QLD - State of Origin Game 2
PERTH, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 26: Nathan Cleary of the Blues celebrates with Matt Burton after scoring a try during game two of the State of Origin series between New South Wales Blues and Queensland Maroons at Optus Stadium on June 26, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

It's already been a massive season for Burton, who finally played a full NRL season in his own position, as well as making his New South Wales debut in the centres while Latrell Mitchell was sidelined.

Now, he's set to partner him in the green-and-gold three-quarter line.

Both of the five-eighth's parents were on hand when their son received the Kangaroos call-up.

“There were a few tears here and there, it was a really special moment,” Burton told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“We're looking to get them across for the back end of the tournament. They might be more excited than me. State of Origin was a goal of mine this year but I hadn't really considered playing for Australia, I never thought I'd be here so I'm so happy to be a part of this.”

After a strong relationship at Penrith, Burton's reunion with Ciraldo has him excited for what 2023 can deliver.

NRL Rd 20 - Bulldogs v Panthers
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 26: Matt Burton of the Panthers celebrates scoring a try during the round 20 NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Penrith Panthers at ANZ Stadium on September 26, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

“Ciro was massive for me when I was at Penrith with him,” Burton said.

“That transition from the halves to centre, it's a big move defensively and there's a lot to learn with that decision-making and all the movements.

“He was outstanding for me with that, he helped with that move and my development as a centre. The way he gets his message across to players, I really appreciated that throughout that year and I think it'll be great for the club.

“He sits you down, shows you things as simply as possible and he gets the best out of you. There's definitely something building at Canterbury with ‘Ciro' arriving.

“There's a lot to look forward to and the club's definitely on the up. I'm looking forward to it and being a part of it."

Burton flies out this week as he looks to contend with Valentine Holmes, Jack Wighton and Campbell Graham for Australia's vacant right centre role.