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Centre switch allows Burns to finally ignite NRL career

A long-awaited chance to play consistent footy at left centre is a major factor behind breakout South Sydney star Braidon Burns' incredible start to 2019.

The 22-year-old got 15 NRL caps over the 2017-18 seasons, predominantly on the wing, and showed a few touches of class but also had his share of struggles, particularly playing on the flank.

But two blinders to start 2019 – in his preferred left centre role – have proven to even the most casual fan that Burns has what it takes to succeed at the highest level, racking up 329 metres and 13 tackle busts plus one try in consecutive wins.

"I'm pretty happy with the way I'm playing at the moment," Burns said following the win over the Dragons and some pretty remarkable praise from veteran coach Wayne Bennett.

Bennett swung a pre-season surprise by displacing star left centre Greg Inglis to the right side to accommodate Burns and his blossoming combination with Cody Walker and John Sutton on that edge.

"I think it came down to the combination me, Cody and Sutto built together. The way we were training there, some of it is translating onto the field now and we're pretty confident," Burns said.

Match Highlights: Dragons v Rabbitohs

"Me and Cody are really close. When I first came to the club Cody was really good and reached out and helped me before I started pre-season. Ever since I've been here I've been really close with Cody."

However he humbly insisted it was Inglis's versatility that underpinned the switch, with the long-serving Kangaroos and Maroons star likely to find it easier to build new combinations on the right side.

"I don't think I pushed him [to the right]!" Burns laughed.

"I think it was more the combination with Cody and Sutto that we've built on that edge. Wayne probably thought it was going to be harder for me to go over and build a combination with Reyno [Adam Reynolds] whereas Greggy could probably pick it straight up. I think that's more the thought process behind that."

Whatever the reason, Burns is in no doubt he is playing with more confidence than ever before.

"The first years I was in between wing and centre and I grew up playing centre so that's my preferred position. I'm really comfortable and confident playing there," he said.

"The main thing for me is taking the metres. I haven't played much grade at centre so I've got to get that confidence there and not push passes when they're not on.

"Those things will come down the track and the more grade I play the more confidence I'll get and the more times they will come off rather than not.

Bennett: Burgess one of the best forwards to play the game

"I probably had the wrong mentality last year where I thought Gags [Dane Gagai, who has moved from right centre to right wing] and Greggy were in the centres and probably wasn't confident enough in my own ability to get in the centres and push one of them out.

"Obviously Wayne sees Dane more as a [winger] at the moment and I'm happy with where I'm at at the moment and the team's doing really well so hopefully it keeps going."


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