Burton goes with less-is-more on mid-field bombs

Scott Bailey |

Matt Burton’s bombing raids have been more occasional this season for the Bulldogs.
Matt Burton’s bombing raids have been more occasional this season for the Bulldogs.

Matt Burton has adopted a less-is-more approach with his damaging torpedo bombs, with a new-found restraint improving his kicking game.

Long regarded as having the best boot in the game, Burton’s bombs have reached heights of over 33 metres and are near impossible for fullbacks to catch.

But it has become abundantly clear Burton is bombing less in 2024

Where the Canterbury half regularly unleashed his torpedos multiple times a game in previous years, they have been few and far between this season.

Burton said that had largely come about following a conversation with coach Cameron Ciraldo, allowing the Bulldogs to play a higher-percentage game.

“I’ve backed off a little bit, I’ve been putting (my kicks) in the corners,” Burton said.

“I feel like I’ve got to do it at the right time. It depends where we are on the field and I haven’t really been in the right spot to do it as much this year.

“That’s a development for me. Previous years if there was nothing on I’d just put one up and hope for the best … but now it’s picking my time.”

Matt Burton.
Matt Burton launches one of his towering bombs against former club Penrith. (Jenny Evans/AAP PHOTOS)

Burton has been practising the bombs since he was a child, and jokes he often took out powerlines in Dubbo while training on the street.

They have long been a feature of his game dating back to his early years at Penrith, but they have also come with the risk of kicks going out on the full.

“It’s something I’ve always been able to do but at this level they’ve got to be accurate and I have to make sure they’re done well,” Burton said.

“It’s definitely hard to pull it back and not do it every time on last tackle. I’d love to put one up every tackle.

“It just depends on how much time I’ve got, how the game’s going and how I hit it.”

Burton’s kicking is a big part of why Canterbury were able to control parts of last week’s golden-point win over Cronulla, putting them fifth on the ladder.

Another part is his halves partner Toby Sexton, with the Bulldogs having won four of five since he has replaced Drew Hutchison at halfback.

The 23-year-old is listed as off contract at season’s end, but on Tuesday moved to confirm he was sill locked in with the Dogs until the end of 2025.

Overlooked at the start of the year, Sexton spent the first two months of the season in NSW Cup before claiming the NRL No.7 jersey.

“Looking back at it now, it’s probably the best thing that’s happened to me,” Sexton said.

“I got to see all those combinations forming in the background while I wasn’t there, and now coming in, it’s been really good.”