Penrith eye reunion with Matt Burton less than 12 months after losing to Canterbury as Panthers CEO admits reigning premiers ‘would love’ to have New South Wales star back
- Matt Burton left the Panthers for Canterbury at the end of last season
- The 22-year-old won the NRL Grand Final with Penrith in 2021
- Burton has reportedly declined to exercise his player option for 2024
- The New South Wales star will be free to talk to rival clubs from November 1
- Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher admitted Penrith could bring Burton back
Penrith would ‘love’ to have Matt Burton back and have left the door open for the New South Wales star to return to the club he left less than a year ago.
Burton won the 2021 NRL Grand Final with the Panthers, before signing for Canterbury in the offseason and has been one of the stars of the current NRL campaign.
The 22-year-old has reportedly declined to exercise his player option for 2024, meaning he will be free to talk to rival clubs from November 1 and the Panthers haven’t ruled out making a play for the star five-eight.
Matt Burton could be set for a return to Penrith after leaving the club in the offseason
‘Sure we’d love to have him back,’ Panthers group CEO Brian Fletcher told the Daily Telegraph.
‘But how do you fit him in the salary cap? That’s the problem. He’s a good bush kid who came through our system. We’re not saying we’re not going to look at it.’
The Panthers will wave goodbye to Api Korisau and Viliame Kikau at the end of the season, with the former moving to the Wests Tigers and the latter joining Burton at the Bulldogs.
With Origin stars Brian To’o and Stephen Crichton out of contract at the end of next season, the Panthers may have limited salary cap available to make a splash in the market.
Burton spent three seasons with the Panthers, scoring in their 2021 NRL Grand Final triumph (above) against South Sydney at Suncorp Stadium
Fletcher, however, suggested Burton would be open to returning to BlueBet Stadium, where he played for three seasons.
‘We’ve already lost Api [Koroisau] and Billy Kikau for next year,’ he said.
‘We’d like to keep all of them but you can’t. With Matt Burton, I think he only signed at Canterbury for two years knowing he might want to come back at some stage.’
Burton’s agent, David Riolo, meanwhile, insisted the Blues star was in no rush to make a decision over his future.
Burton made his State of Origin debut last week as New South Wales thrashed Queensland 44-12 in Game 2 at Optus Stadium in Perth to level the series
Burton’s family travelled all the way from Dubbo to watch him make his debut for the Blues
‘I’ll sit down with Burto at the end of the season and go through all the options,’ he said.
‘He’s played himself into a really good position but there’s nothing urgent at the moment.’
Burton won the premiership last season playing as centre, a position he was again deployed in last week as he made his State of Origin debut during New South Wales’ stunning 44-12 win over Queensland in Perth.
He’s widely expected to keep his place for the Origin decider on July 13 at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.