The Canterbury Bulldogs will have more than $700,000 to spend on five top 30 roster spots for next year according to Phil Gould, but young gun Jake Averillo has advised the club to throw as much of that money as possible at star Matt Burton.
Burton is currently earning $500,000 per season but has opted to test the player market for 2024, fresh from another demonstration of his freakish abilities during his State of Origin debut in Perth.
Averillo told The Daily Telegraph the club must do whatever possible to keep Burton at Belmore.
“He gives our team a lot of confidence, especially coming back from Origin with how he played in that last game. He’s a freak,” Averillo said.
“He always comes up with those big plays and he’s got a big boot. He’s an (out)-and-out footy player and the kind of player we need in this team.”
Averillo, who shares a manager with Burton, will be entering the market at the same time – though it says a lot about his character that he’s flying the flag for Burton despite not having entered any extension talks himself.
“I haven’t had any talks, if clubs come and talk to me I’ll deal with it then,” he said.
“This is the most I have enjoyed my footy in a while.”
Burton and Averillo are just two of a host of Bulldogs players who are dealing with contract matters, with a number of unsigned players vying for those remaining spots.
One of those players is Raymond Faitala-Mariner, who missed over a year of football with a unique foot injury that threatened to force him into early retirement.
“I had surgery in March and they put three pins in my foot,” the prop told Fox Sports at the start of the 2022 season.
“I was told it would take four months to heal but when my running protocols began I was still feeling pain in my foot."
After such a long stint on the sidelines and with a contract at stake, Faitala-Mariner has been impressive in his return, eased back into the side with his workload managed. He’s been named on the bench again for this week’s important clash against South Sydney.