He spent his childhood dressing up for Origin day, now Matt Burton will get to do it for real.
Moments after spearheading a reborn Canterbury side to back-to-back wins, this time over the Wests Tigers, Burton had the chat with Blues coach Brad Fittler he’d always dreamt of having.
“It was unreal I couldn’t believe it. It’s always been a dream of mine to get that jersey on. I’m just so pumped that I get the opportunity to get to do it,” Burton said.
“There was obviously a bit of thought there (going into the game), getting a lot of messages and I (said), ‘Don’t know what’s going on here. I didn’t hear anything.
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“But after the game when Freddy told me, I was in shock and can’t believe it still. I can not wait.”
It’s been a stunning rise for the 22-year-old from Dubbo, who made his debut in 2019.
“I remember back out in Dubbo, I used to love it, get dressed up for it, watching, waiting for it to come around. Used to get goosebumps watching it and that,” he said.
The Bulldogs star will reunite with a whopping seven of his ex-teammates at Penrith, having been a part of the side that claimed the premiership over South Sydney last year.
Burton then moved to Belmore in the summer.
“There’s obviously a lot of Panthers players in there and we have them previous combinations from last year and stuff like that, so keen to get in there and see them guys as well,” he said.
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Burton’s kicking game has been a feature of a Canterbury side that has shot to life with back-to-back wins for the first time in almost three years.
His left foot will be a point of difference for the Blues in Perth.
“I’ll be happy to take a bit of pressure off them guys. If that’s what I have to do, I’m just happy to do whatever for that squad,” he said.
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Burton’s selection also justifies his decision to remain at Penrith last year, having almost made the move to Canterbury in the pre-season after signing his deal.
“My decision to come to the club was never going to change,” he said
“I’m just grateful we got to play in the Penrith side and to win a grand final there was unbelievable. To now come here and get the job done tonight and get the call-up for Origin. It’s pretty special.”