NRL great PAUL GALLEN will appear on Nine’s 100% FOOTY every Monday night of the NRL season, debating rugby league’s hottest topics alongside Phil Gould and James Bracey. Tune in tonight at 9:45pm (AEST) to wrap up round 18!
I saw on the weekend the chairman of Rugby Australia saying Matt Burton is on their hitlist, as they prepare to host the World Cup in 2027.
Personally, I don’t think he’ll switch codes.
We’ve moved on from the time when rugby could poach our top talent, and that’s because the salary cap has increased over the years.
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Back in the day you might have had guys getting their salary doubled to switch codes, and I just don’t think that’s the case anymore.
Matt Burton will be able to demand somewhere around $700,000 on his next NRL contract, maybe $800,000, so why would he switch codes for an extra $100,000 or so? Yes, $100,000 is a lot of money, but I don’t think it’s enough to make him turn his back on the NRL.
I don’t care what Rugby Australia does, but it’s a dangerous path to go down. We’ve seen in the past when they’ve recruited players from rugby league, it just means their game goes backwards. They need to focus on their own development programs, instead of poaching players from elsewhere.
It hasn’t worked in the past, look what happened when they recruited Wendell Sailor and Lote Tuqiri and a stack of others about 20 years ago. Yeah, it’s fine for a while, but in the long run it’s not good for the game.
They should be focusing their money on developing the talent to come through the ranks and play for the Wallabies, instead of looking to the NRL.
The Wallabies at the moment have got Marika Koroibete, Tom Wright and Suliasi Vunivalu, who have all played in the NRL. RA should be taking a good hard look at what it’s doing for grassroots rugby, because from where I sit, it’s not working real well.
The Australian team is the pinnacle of the sport, but you’ve got to have the talent coming through the Super Rugby pathways. If you’re only worried about recruiting players for the Wallabies, well, everything below that just falls apart. It’s like a pyramid, you need the strong base to support the top, and that applies to anything in life, not just sport.
As far as Burton is concerned, I could see him switching if there was a massive difference in pay, but without that, I expect him to stay in the NRL. Don’t forget he’s also now getting State of Origin payments on top of his club contract, so that needs to be factored in as well.
The NFL is also being spoken about, and that’s a great option for Burton as well and something that could also pop up in the future, but I think he’s still got more to achieve in rugby league. He hasn’t played for Australia yet.
He’s a very talented player, but there’s no guarantee he’d make it to the top in NFL, there’s so many variables, it’s not just a matter of getting hold of the ball and kicking it. There’s been guys training their whole lives to do that.
Latrell Mitchell’s comments after yesterday’s match were interesting, where he declared Burton’s Origin jersey was his, and the decision to sit out Origin III was the hardest he’d had to make.
You can’t make a direct comparison between them out of yesterday’s match, given Burton played at five-eighth and Latrell was at fullback, but the try that Latrell scored was brilliant, it showed exactly why he’s one of the best.
Latrell destroys Bulldogs defenders
But the fact is State of Origin 2023 is 11 months away. There’s plenty of water to go under the bridge before we get to that point. So much can happen in a week in rugby league, let’s now worry about what might happen next year.
There’s actually room for both of them in the New South Wales side, given Burton could slot in at five-eighth. Everyone knows that Latrell and Tom Trbojevic are the first-choice centers if they’re fit, and I reckon Burton himself would have no problems admitting that.
Obviously the combination of Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary has been very potent for Penrith, and for NSW in the past. There’s always the opportunity for someone to take your spot, and Burton is a five-eighth, so that’s very much in the mix. But let’s come back to that topic in May next year, not a few days after the 2022 series has finished.
Panthers had every right to rest Origin stars
Tigers coach bristles at Panthers rotation
Brett Kimmorley said Penrith were disrespectful in resting their State of Origin players against the Tigers, but let’s be clear, the Panthers have earned the right to do as they please.
They’re eight points clear at the top of the table.
Ivan Cleary has one job, that’s to win the NRL premiership. State of Origin is the jewel in the crown for our game, but that’s not Cleary’s responsibility. He’s paid to win a premiership for the Panthers, and he’s going to do whatever he thinks needs to be done to put them in the best position possible heading into the back-end of the year.
They’ll have learned from last year. Remember, they got the wobbles after State of Origin last year. They were beaten by Souths in the first week of the semi-finals. It wasn’t an easy period for them in 2021.
Penrith fans will expect the team to have learned from last year, and I think resting their players is a reaction to what happened 12 months ago.
I can speak from personal experience. For me, it was hard to return to the Sharks after an Origin series. I played in a number of deciders, and unfortunately we didn’t win too many of them. It’s draining, it’s a real let-down, emotionally and mentally.
Physically you might not be so bad, but we know how powerful the mind can be. You’ve got to be mentally fresh and in the right space to be at your best when you return to your club.
The Penrith players have now had some time off, and they’ll come back to the club this week refreshed and all the better for it.
On second thoughts, the Panthers play the Sharks on Saturday, so Ivan should feel free to give them another week off!
Criticism of Joey misses the mark
Johns reveals ‘insulting’ trigger for post-Origin blow-up
I can’t finish without a comment on my Wide World of Sports colleague Andrew Johns, and the crap he copped for his comments after State of Origin.
Joey is as passionate as they come, which is what gets me about the whole situation.
Some fans want to question New South Wales’ passion towards Origin, and here’s a block showing nothing but passion and love for his state.
You can’t argue the Blues aren’t passionate about Origin, and then get stuck into Joey as soon he shows some passion.
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State of Origin III 2022 in pictures: All the color of the Blues v Maroons series decider
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