Burton’s our five-eighth, can be more involved: Ciraldo

Jasper Bruce |

The Bulldogs believe Matt Burton will make a notable improvement at No.6 the more he plays there.
The Bulldogs believe Matt Burton will make a notable improvement at No.6 the more he plays there.

Cameron Ciraldo is bullish on playing Matt Burton at No.6 rather in the centres but admits the Canterbury playmaker could involve himself more in games.

The Bulldogs coach also confirmed winger Josh Addo-Carr had lost his battle to recover from a shoulder injury and would miss Friday night’s match with Cronulla.

After last week’s 26-8 loss to Parramatta, Greg Alexander and Matthew Johns became the latest NRL identities to question whether Burton would better serve Canterbury at centre rather than five-eighth.

The Bulldogs’ attack faltered against the Eels after also proving a weak spot last season.

Burton and new halves partner Drew Hutchison struggled to wrestle their side into the battle for field position after Parramatta’s strong start.

Burton played left centre in Penrith’s 2021 grand final triumph, scoring a try in his last game before moving to Belmore to realise his dream of becoming a starting playmaker in the NRL.

Ciraldo, a member of the Panthers coaching staff for that premiership victory, could not deny Burton’s abilities as an outside back.

Cameron Ciraldo.
Coach Cameron Ciraldo overlooks the Bulldogs’ progress at Belmore Sportsground. (Mark Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

But he maintained the 24-year-old also had the potential to be a “great five-eighth”.

“He’s our five-eighth at the moment,” Ciraldo said.

“Everyone knows Matt is able to play centre.

“But he’s also got some really good attributes about his game at five-eighth.

“Last week, he kept us in the game with his kicking game when we were on the back foot. When teams are on the back foot, that’s a really hard thing to do.

“We all know Matt can be a great centre but I think he’s going to be a great five-eighth as well.”

While halfback Hutchison roamed both edges on club debut, Burton attacked exclusively on the left side against the Eels.

Ciraldo wants to see his five-eighth take a more hands-on approach against the Sharks.

“Does he need to get more involved? 100 per cent,” he said.

“When he touches the ball, good things happen and our team benefits from it. So we want to get him in those positions this week.

“He’s working really hard, he’s put himself in those positions at training and we’d like to see it come out tomorrow.”

Addo-Carr is expected to return from the shoulder injury he suffered against Parramatta when the Dogs host Gold Coast in round three.

Josh Addo-Carr.
Josh Addo-Carr watches the second half of the Bulldogs-Eels clash after injuring a shoulder. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

He was named in the extended squad to face Cronulla on Tuesday.

Confident after bulking up in the pre-season and taking on extra gym sessions, Addo-Carr insisted he could recover in time.

But Ciraldo confirmed on Thursday that ex-Sharks utility Connor Tracey would take Addo-Carr’s spot on the wing for a club debut.

“We thought it was the AC (joint) and the clavicle, but there’s a bit more going on there,” Ciraldo said.

“(Addo-Carr) has done really well to put himself in a position to play, but at the moment it’s not worth the risk.

“He’ll be right next week.”