Rabbitohs rookie Burns eyes wing spot
Rookie South Sydney winger Braidon Burns did his chances of a first grade debut in Round 1 against the Wests Tigers no harm with a two-try performance against the Dragons in the Charity Shield on Sunday.
With the vacant wing spot up for grabs due to the long-term knee injury suffered by Aaron Gray in the Auckland Nines, the 20-year-old was on the end of two pinpoint kicks late in the second half to help the Rabbitohs cruise away with victory.
The first four-pointer finished off by the former Panthers flyer had everyone talking, with interchange hooker Damien Cook splitting the Dragons defence up the middle before finding Burns out wide with a crafty banana kick.
"He (Cook) got on the front foot, I just held shape there and I got pretty lucky that he put it on a dime for me," Burns said after the game.
"I've been looking forward to playing with Sammy [Burgess] and all those boys. They made it pretty easy for me to go out and do my job."
When asked if a first grade debut was now in the back of his mind leading into season kick-off in a fortnight, Burns wasn't getting ahead of himself but said being around the leadership group at South Sydney has made the transition from Penrith to Redfern smoother than he imagined.
"I wasn't as confident as I am now. Coming into a first grade pre-season it was a bit daunting but I thought I went pretty well and the boys made it really easy," he said.
"Either way if I'm in Cup (the Intrust Super Premiership) or in first grade, I'll just be excited to be out on the field and do my job.
"There's a few things that I still need to fix up. I didn't know what to expect coming to the club but the older boys have taken it upon themselves to make sure myself and a lot of the other younger boys are comfortable.
"There's no hierarchy, they come up to you and if they're doing something on the weekend they'll invite you so they don't care how old we are.
"We are all on the same page."
Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire was pleased with Burns' performance and said one of the strengths at the club was the ability for his senior players to mentor the young juniors coming through the system.
"I thought he played really well. We've obviously got big Greg [Inglis] coming back in so there's some decisions to be made but I thought Braidon performed really well for us and he's been training really well at Redfern," Maguire said.
"Those young guys are really going to grow and I'm fortunate I've got some good senior players guiding them in the right directions.
"They've set the platform of about what's expected at the place and I think off that leadership these younger guys are going to get better as we keep moving through the season."