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Dubbo boy Matt Burton stars on home stage

The last time Matt Burton played on his home ground of Apex Oval in Dubbo, Penrith now-Penrith teammate Charlie Staines put on a show and beat him in two grand finals in one afternoon.

That was 2018, and Burton’s Dubbo CYMS were beaten by Staines’ Forbes Magpies in both under-18s and first grade on Group 11’s finals day.

On Sunday both he and Staines returned as the local heroes, with Burton scoring three tries and setting up two others in the Panthers’ 56-12 flogging of South Sydney.

“It got brought up a fair bit with me and him during the week,” Burton said.

“But to come back to the hometown and put on a performance like that is pretty special.

“You dream of it as a kid, to play footy at your hometown. But to do it in the NRL, there’s no better feeling. I still can’t believe it.

“I can’t believe it.”

With 45 tickets organised for family and friends, as well as hundreds of others no doubt in attendance, Burton was the most popular man in Dubbo on Sunday.

He admitted to getting chills as he walked back hearing his name chanted, with 21-year-old also making a break in the lead-up to Penrith’s first try.

Making it even more remarkable is the fact he is doing it at centre.

A known five-eighth, Penrith were so confident in his ability to adapt to life out wide they made it part of their offer for him to stay at the club that he would play there.

Burton signed with Canterbury for next year but their judgment was right, with him scoring eight tries in nine games this year as part of a lethal combination with Jarome Luai.

“It got brought up a few times (in talks) but I think I’m a five-eighth,” Burton said.

“I didn’t (think I was a centre), no chance at all.

“But I’m loving it out there. Just to play (inside) Bizza (Brian To’o) and (outside Jarome, it’s pretty special.”

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