When Matt Burton hits them the way he wants, there may not be a fullback in rugby league who can handle his swirling bombs.

It might just be that skill that gets him back in the New South Wales side.

The Canterbury playmaker went for the boomer a couple of times in the Bulldogs’ win over Parramatta but it was not until just before half-time that he really hit one into the stratosphere.

Eels fullback Clint Gutherson had done a good job under the high ball thus far, but he didn’t have a chance on this one.

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Burton’s ability to change a game with a single bomb makes him a tantalising prospect as an interchange weapon for New South Wales. 

One kick can be all it takes to turn an Origin on its head. And while plenty of players can kick a fine swirling bomb, nobody can do it like Burton.

The 24-year-old has made an effort to play with greater control, especially when it comes to his kicking game.

He thinks he’s had bigger kicks than the twisting mind-bender he uncorked on Monday — the towering inferno he launched in his Origin debut in Perth back in 2022 is his pick — but this season Burton has changed his approach on his swirling bombs and has been better for it.

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“I’m usually just putting it into the corners, but if I have time and I feel like it’s the right time I try to unload. If I feel the opportunity come up I’ll definitely take it,” Burton said.

“It’s practice and awareness of the game, what’s right for what time of the game and what the team needs. That’s my thought process.”

Burton is hitting the swirling bombs less often now but nails them more consistently and he’s found a better touch on his kicking game in general — on Monday he hit his third 40/20 of the season, the equal most of any player in the league.

The instant opportunities his boot can create combined with his versatility in covering centre, the halves and potentially the backrow makes Burton a prime candidate to offer New South Wales the versatility it sorely lacked in Game I.

Burton was the 18th man on that night, despite a litany of rumours through the week that he’d be added to the bench.

It marked an unusual milestone for Burton — he’s now been 18th man for New South Wales three times and played for them just twice.

“You have to prepare like you’re playing,” he said.

“It’s more of a mental game. You’re riding the ups and downs and you feel like you’re out there.

“I love being part of the group and we’re definitely building something special there. We’ll just keep moving forward.

“I was always 18th man [for Origin I] but I was preparing like I was playing so if anything did happen I’d be ready to go.

“I just have to play my heart out for the Dogs and if anything comes off the back of that I’ll be grateful.”

Canterbury have the bye next week, which means Burton has done all he can to make his case for an Origin recall.

He’s been in good form through the Bulldogs’ recent revival, playing well against the Dragons and Eels amid the club’s recent three-match winning streak.

The 22-18 win over Parramatta, where Canterbury fought off a series of injuries and disallowed tries to score twice in the last 12 minutes to overwhelm their rivals, is a mark of how far the team has come in 2024.

“It’s definitely up there. Since I’ve been at the club that’s definitely one of the grittiest [games],” Burton said.

“I don’t know the words to describe but it was an unbelievable performance, especially with what we had to go through during the game.

“It’s a credit to the coaching staff and all us boys, the amount of effort we put into each week and each training session and how close we’ve come together so fast.”

dan