NRL State of Origin market watch: What Bulldogs must do to keep Matt Burton, Selwyn Cobbo pledges future to Broncos

Matt Burton has declined his player option for 2024, making him hot property. But there’s one move Canterbury can make that could prove crucial in keeping him at the Bulldogs.

Canterbury’s ability to entice Penrith assistant Cameron Ciraldo to take the vacant head coach role at the Bulldogs could be crucial in keeping Matt Burton at the club long term.

It’s believed Burton won’t take up the player option for season 2024 meaning the star five-eighth will be one of the hottest prospects on the open market from November 1.

A standout performance on Sunday night for NSW would only further peak interest from NRL rivals.

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Trent Barrett, who quit in May, was able to leverage the strong bond forged with Burton during their time at Penrith together to lure the Dubbo junior to Belmore on a two-year deal that had an option for a third season.

Matt Burton is hot property, but can the Bulldogs convince him to stay?
Matt Burton is hot property, but can the Bulldogs convince him to stay?

Now, Canterbury’s ability to attract another of the Panthers’ assistants in Ciraldo could be key in securing Burton beyond season 2023.

“I personally haven’t heard anything about him coming to Belmore so we will have to wait and see what happens. He’d be great at Canterbury,” Burton said.

“Ciro is an awesome coach. He’s a really smart guy, he’s got a great football brain. He is also a really good communicator, the way he gets his point across and the way he addresses things is clear, that makes it easy to know exactly what your job is.

“I think the best thing about his coaching style is how personal he is with the players.

“He’ll come up to you after training and let you know how you’re going and what areas you need to work on and improve. He can be very meticulous.”

Ciraldo, the NRL’s best up and coming coach, is also a target at the Wests Tigers, who have offered a five-year deal at Concord.

Cameron Ciraldo could convince Matt Burton to stay — if he takes up the vacant coaching role at the Bulldogs. Picture: Getty Images
Cameron Ciraldo could convince Matt Burton to stay — if he takes up the vacant coaching role at the Bulldogs. Picture: Getty Images

St Helens and Tonga coach Kristian Woolf is also keen to snare an NRL head coach role and is on Canterbury’s radar to fill the vacancy left by Barrett.

Burton was tight-lipped about the nature of conversations had with Barrett since quit but revealed he was ‘devastated’ to see the coach walk away.

“I rang him when he left, we had a few words, I’ll leave the conversation between us, I mostly wished him all the best. He was emotional, as you would be … he did a lot for the club and a lot for me too. I’m sure if he wanted to coach again in the future, he can,” Burton said.

“Baz is a great bloke and was a great coach. It was pretty devastating to be honest, the way it happened. I think we accept that’s football at the end of the day.

“But we have had to move on as a team. Mick Potter has stepped into that role at the moment and has been doing a good job too.”

Burton said so far there had been no formal extension talks with Canterbury management about a new deal with the club.

Burton is key figure in the Bulldogs’ future. Picture: Getty Images
Burton is key figure in the Bulldogs’ future. Picture: Getty Images

The 22-year old also wants to get a gauge on how the club’s 2023 recruits, backrower Viliame Kikau and hooker Reed Mahoney, will help transform the struggling outfit on the field.

“Haven’t spoken about any of that yet, I don’t think there is a rush … I am just focused on playing good footy … getting the job done on Sunday and playing good footy for the Bulldogs,” Burton said.

“It’s going to be awesome to have Kiks there and Reed next year. They are going to add another dimension to our side, which I am really excited to see what they can do for Canterbury.”

Broncos whiz kid makes huge call on $4 million offer

—Peter Badel

Selwyn Cobbo has declared his future is at Brisbane with the Queensland sensation to reject mega rival offers of up to $4 million and ink a new deal with the Broncos after this year’s Origin series.

Breaking his silence on contract talks, Cobbo told News Corp he has no plans to test his value on the open market as the Maroons whiz-kid prepares for Origin II this Sunday night at Perth’s Optus Stadium.

The Broncos kicked off extension talks eight weeks ago, but Cobbo’s value soared following his shock selection in the Queensland team and his cool-headed debut in Origin I at Sydney’s Accor Stadium.

After setting up a try in Queensland’s epic 16-10 victory, Cobbo’s management was inundated with expressions of interest, with one NRL rival discussing a five-year deal worth $900,000 a season to lure him away from Red Hill.

Broncos young gun Selwyn Cobbo is Queensland’s Origin iceman.
Broncos young gun Selwyn Cobbo is Queensland’s Origin iceman.

Just turned 20, Cobbo is on $180,000 this season and could earn an extra $2 million over a five-year period if he quit Brisbane.

But on the eve of Origin II, Cobbo has set the record straight on his future, saying he won’t chase big bucks in NSW as he commits to building his Origin career on Queensland soil and winning a premiership at the Broncos.

“I don’t want to leave. It’s my plan to stay at the Broncos,” Cobbo said as he braces for a daunting showdown with rival NSW winger Brian To’o.

“I love the club. The staff have been really good for me, guys like ‘Kevvie’ (coach Kevin Walters) and Ben Ikin (football boss) have helped me off the field and with my footy.

“There’s a lot of talk (about interest in him from NRL rivals), but I love the Broncos so I don’t want to go anywhere else.

“Growing up, the Broncos were my team, I had a dream to play for them and right now, I‘m living my dream.

“I want to stay at the Broncos for a while yet and hopefully win some premierships for them.”

Cobbo is contracted to the Broncos for next season and Brisbane bosses are keen to upgrade him until the end of 2025, before the newly-minted Maroons winger can field formal offers from NRL rivals on November 1.

Brisbane have agreed to put extension talks on hold to allow Cobbo to focus on his maiden Origin series. Cobbo plans to sign with the Broncos next month after Origin III.

A number of factors will keep Cobbo at Red Hill. The Indigenous ace is keen to remain close to his family at Cherbourg. He also wants to repay the Broncos‘ faith for standing by him last month after Cobbo was charged with driving an unregistered vehicle and banned from driving for six months.

“I turned 20 before Origin I so I’m no longer a teenager,” Cobbo said. “I have to grow up now.”

Ikin, the Broncos head of football and former Queensland Origin utility, said the off-field drama was a wake-up call for Cobbo, who clinched a Maroons debut after just 19 NRL games.

“It was a learning curve for him,” Ikin said.

Cobbo produced a brilliant kick infield for Queensland’s opening try in Origin I.
Cobbo produced a brilliant kick infield for Queensland’s opening try in Origin I.

“When guys make off-field mistakes at that age, if handled correctly, they grow from them. Selwyn generally doesn‘t get stressed about too much. Most of them know when they have stuffed-up and Selwyn is no different, so you ensure it is made known to them on behalf of the club, that the club doesn’t accept that type of behaviour and you send them back to work and hope for the best.

“It’s a guide-and-step-aside approach, but I’m confident Selwyn has learned from it.”

Cobbo is Queensland’s Origin iceman. There is no panic, no nerves. At Maroons training, the Broncos’ latest whiz-kid gets around with a casual smile and huge shimmering studs in both ears.

“There is no hard edge about Selwyn and what he does. He is just natural. Wherever he goes, it is like he is meant to be there,” Ikin said.

“I wouldn’t say I’m shocked he is playing Origin. Watching him, you know Origin was always going to be there at some point in his future.

“I am pleased that his development has happened so quickly. He has been able to play a level of football that most people would have thought beyond someone that age. He has caught us a bit by surprise, but that’s the way Selwyn lives, in a happy sort of way.”

Broncos and Queensland legend Steve Renouf has taken on a mentoring role with Cobbo and Ikin sees eerie parallels between the pair.

“If he reminds me of anyone, it’s Steve Renouf,” Ikin said.

“We are keen to compare Selwyn to Greg Inglis and Latrell Mitchell, but ‘The Pearl’ (Renouf) was this laconic, laid-back figure and Selwyn has that trait.

“Pearl just did what he needed to do in training, he saved his best stuff for when it counted. Like Renouf, Selwyn doesn’t sweat the small stuff.

Cobbo has no plans to quit Brisbane and is ready to ink an extension with the Broncos.
Cobbo has no plans to quit Brisbane and is ready to ink an extension with the Broncos.

“He doesn’t shirk the work, but when it’s game time, Selwyn is ready.”

It was evident again in Origin I. With seemingly nothing on, Cobbo produced the instinctive grubber kick infield for Dane Gagai‘s 36th-minute try which ignited Queensland’s fightback.

The Blues believed Cobbo was susceptible to error in his debut, but the 100kg flyer says he is relishing the Origin stage.

“I was definitely shocked at how tough it was,” Cobbo said.

“It was more physical and faster than anything I had ever played. It is a totally different game to the NRL, I was still pretty sore a few days after the game.

“But the pressure doesn’t worry me at all. l love being out there and Steve Renouf has been really helpful for me, he has played in these big games and his advice has been, ‘Don’t ever doubt yourself. Believe in your ability’.

“Everything has moved so fast for me, but I love the challenge of Origin.”

Originally published as NRL State of Origin market watch: What Bulldogs must do to keep Matt Burton, Selwyn Cobbo pledges future to Broncos

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