You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
Penrith's Matt Burton in action against Manly.

Belmore-bound Panthers playmaker Matt Burton says he is doing his best to avoid the glare of public attention and focus on making the best of an unexpected chance as a left centre in Ivan Cleary's NRL side.

The Dubbo-born 21-year-old isn't keen on being in the headlines but has been there nonetheless thanks to a tug-of-war between the two western Sydney clubs over his services this year, with Penrith viewing the talented ball-player as key depth in their 2021 premiership push.

That has been borne out already this year, with Burton claiming man-of-the-match honours against heavyweights Melbourne in round three with Nathan Cleary sitting out due to a head knock, then scoring a try in an impressive stint moonlighting at left centre in round four in a reshuffle forced by Dylan Edwards' broken hand.

"Yeah it's definitely good to get some game time, it's just good experience for me," Burton said after the 46-6 win over Manly.

"I don't really read into (the media attention) much, I just try and focus on my job and do what's best for the team.

"I have social media but I don't really read into it or anything, I just try and focus on my job and keep level-headed."

Burton gets his turn

The immediate task at hand is doing his job in the less familiar centre role, though he has done some work there over the summer.

"It was pretty different to five-eighth but I really got in a groove there with Jarome [Luai] and Kiks (Viliame Kikau)," he said.

"To have them outside me makes my job a lot easier, they're absolute freaks.

"[I played centre] a little bit in junior grades and stuff like that. I had a good crack at it in the pre-season so it helps.

"This pre-season is probably the most I've learned in that position, there was probably six to eight weeks where I just got training there a few times and it really helped me out and I'm starting to find my feet there."

Burton admitted he definitely hadn't expected to be putting in a longer stint in the role.

"Nah definitely not but it opened up and I'm just happy to be in the team doing my job," he said.

"It's good, it gives me a lot of confidence and I can't wait for the next few weeks and hopefully I get a crack.

"Whether I was in the [NRL] team or not I just wanted to be giving it 100% for the boys and putting my best foot forward every week.

"It's obviously a massive step up from [Canterbury] Cup. It's a lot more physical and faster. I think it's just good for my development. I'm just happy to be in the team."

Match Highlights: Sea Eagles v Panthers

Burton wasn't going to be drawn into the tussle between Penrith and Canterbury but had nothing but praise for the environment he is in right now.

"The culture here's unbelievable and just the teammates and all that, we're so close and such a good bond with each other," he said.

"[Ivan] has come to speak to me a little bit, he says just do your job and we've just been putting in the hard work at training so I guess just sticking in there and doing the job for the team.

"It was good to get a crack last week in the halves. I thought Jarome stepped up last week and we were strong through the middle. It was a good opportunity to keep our heads down and look forward to next week."

Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

Premier Partner

Media Partners

Major Partners

View All Partners