Burton’s development just fine: Panthers

Penrith co-captain Isaah Yeo has produced a cheeky dig at Canterbury for suggesting in-form Bulldogs-bound playmaker Matt Burton would experience stunted development if he remained at the Panthers.

Burton has been named in the centres to take on Manly on Thursday night – a week after producing a man-of-the-match performance at five-eighth in a win over Melbourne.

It comes as Canterbury last week made another attempt to lure the Dubbo-born half to Belmore before his contract starts in 2022 via a swap with Bulldogs prop Dylan Napa.

The Panthers rejected the deal, only a couple of months after the Bulldogs declined to give up Napa in exchange for Burton.

It’s a decision that Canterbury would be regretting given the Penrith playmaker’s recent form.

Matt Burton isn’t going anywhere just yet. Picture: Cameron Spencer/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Yeo believes Burton’s consecutive NRL appearances shows why the club has refused to release him early despite claims from Bulldogs major sponsor Arthur Laundy that the Panthers are “standing in the young person’s way” by retaining him at the foot of the mountains.

“There was all this hype about him not getting games and it is cruelling his development. Well, he was very important for us last week and he is obviously filling in again this week, too,” Yeo said.

“Matty Burton is just a footballer and I’m glad we’ve got him still.

“I’ve said it all along – I’m very happy that we’ve got him for another 12 months and I think that is showing.

“Every time I’ve been asked, I’ve said he is going to be important for us at some point, and it took to round 3 against the Melbourne Storm for him to put his hand up and have a really good game.”

Yeo expects Burton to continue to receive significant NRL game time at Penrith throughout the 2021 season.

“At some stage he is going to be called upon again in the halves I’m sure, particularly over the Origin period with Nathan (Cleary) being the No.7 (for the Blues),” he said.

Strike centre Stephen Crichton will play fullback for Penrith against Manly on Thursday night. Picture: Brett CostelloSource:News Corp Australia

“He (Matty) is extremely important to us and the club has been pretty firm on that he is important and is here for another 12 months.”

Burton will combine with back-rower Viliame Kikau on Penrith’s left edge.

Kikau is expecting big things from the Panthers rising star.

“He (Matt) is going to go really well,” Kikau said.

“He has been training in the centres during the pre-season, so he is going to be really good.

“He has got a big left foot and I’ve been helping him out this week.”

Yeo is also excited about explosive centre Stephen Crichton being named at fullback for Thursday’s Manly clash.

“For Stephen, it gives him a chance to get the ball in his hands more, which is exciting for us and the fans,” Yeo said.

“He has played there (fullback) before coming off the bench.”

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