The Panthers have reportedly dismissed the Bulldogs’ final, desperate player swap offer to free rising star Matt Burton from the final year of his contract.
The highly-fancied playmaker was awarded man of the match honours in his first starting-side game of 2021, teasing the Bulldogs with his talent.
Burton has signed a three-year deal with the Bulldogs, beginning in 2022, and the club has made no secret of its desire to push the Panthers into granting him an early release.
Burton is stuck behind Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai and started the season in reserve grade.
He was only promoted for the Panthers’ dramatic win over the Storm in Round 3 because of the Panthers’ decision to rest halfback Nathan Cleary after he suffered concussion symptoms.
With star fullback Dylan Edwards also suffering a broken hand injury against the Storm, Burton is also expected to slot in somewhere in the Panthers’ 17 for their Thursday night battle with Manly.
Burton played fullback last year before Edwards returned to the team.
It’s one of the reasons the Panthers have been vindicated by holding onto their star utility in the face of the Bulldogs’ persistent efforts to snatch him away early.
The Sydney Morning Heraldfirst reported the Bulldogs have recently put former Queensland State of Origin star Dylan Napa on the trade table — but the offer has since been rejected.
The report reveals the Bulldogs botched the negotiations to release Burton after the Panthers reportedly hinted they could be interested in the prop forward earlier this year before the Bulldogs eventually took him off the trade table.
Now the Bulldogs have backflipped, but the Panthers have since gone cold on the offer.
It comes as The Daily Telegraph revealed Monday Burton’s contract includes an option in his favour to activate the final year of his contract — or to walk away from the Dogs after two seasons.
Napa has not played State of Origin since 2019, and his form this year was reportedly enough to see the Panthers walk away from the Bulldogs; offer.
The Panthers on Friday night enjoyed one of the sweetest victories they have tasted in recent years in a dramatic, last-gasp finish.
Viliame Kikau and Stephen Crichton combined to pull off a miraculous try-saver to help the Penrith Panthers secure a nailbiting two-point victory over the Melbourne Storm on Thursday evening.
The highly-anticipated Grand Final rematch at Panthers Stadium proved a gritty arm wrestle from start to finish, culminating in a thrilling final passage of play.