Matt Burton positional switch, centre, five-eighth, Canterbury Bulldogs, Cameron Ciraldo, Toby Sexton, Round 2


Matty Johns has called on Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo to shift Matt Burton to centre to unlock his running game after his side’s disappointing 26-8 loss to the Eels in Round 1.

Burton had just two runs for 18 metres at five-eighth with no try or linebreak involvements, two errors and a penalty conceded against the Eels.

Johns believes on the evidence of last year and Round 1, Burton needs to rediscover his running game to build his confidence at the position that saw him win Dally M centre of the year in 2021.

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“I was looking forward to the new revamped Bulldogs and I know they had to defend their line quite a bit, but in attack what do you think was going on there?” Bryan Fletcher asked on Sunday Night with Matty Johns.

“They have got a lot of ball handlers,” Johns said.

“It seemed like at times there was a little bit too much and they played a little bit too sideways.

“I reckon with Burton he is a world class runner of the football. I know it is only Round 1 this year, but I saw it last year.

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Matt Burton only ran twice against the Eels.Source: Getty Images

“I have seen this a million times where you get great runners of the football and suddenly you put them in a playmaking position and they get weighed down by what they think their duties are as far as organising the side and I can see that with Burton.

“If I was Cameron Ciraldo and he has his own plans, but I would be putting Burton to left centre.

“Crichton can play either. It doesn’t worry him. He can play right and maybe bring Toby Sexton in.

“I think if you put Burton even for a short stint at left centre and really stimulate his running game and really get him going because he is an incredible runner.

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Matt Burton and Viliame Kikau struggled to unleash Stephen Crichton.Source: Getty Images

“There are not many better runners of the football than Matty Burton, but you can just see him out there and he is just weighed down by the responsibility of steering the side around.”

Fletcher noted Burton’s inability to unlock star recruit and captain Stephen Crichton as another worrying sign for the playmaker.

“That left side they had Kikau, Crichton and Burton and the Foxx, but he went off,” Fletcher said.

“That’s a pretty handy left edge and Crichton got the ball three or four times.”

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“I think he (Crichton) touched the ball seven times and scored once,” Nathan Hindmarsh added.

Johns conceded the Bulldogs’s attack was affected by the amount of defence they had to do against the Eels and warned it will take time for combinations to develop after 11 changes to their roster from last season.

“By the same token the amount of defence they had to do took a toll,” Johns said.

“They will get there, but again we spoke about Penrith trying to bed down new combinations.

“There is so many new combinations in the Bulldogs side.”



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