Burton rejects NFL to focus on Bulldogs

Two Australians have been selected as part of the latest intake into the NFL's International Player Pathway program but Canterbury NRL playmaker Matt Burton declined an invitation to the overseas draft combine.

Burton's aerial bombs became a signature of his game after he switched into the halves at the Bulldogs this year, with his kicking abilities likened to those of an NFL punter.

Speaking on James Graham's The Bye Round Podcast, player manager David Riolo explained Burton had attracted the interest of scouts preparing for the NFL International Combine, a yearly selection clinic designed to cherrypick international talent from other sports.

Players who impress are chosen for the International Player Pathway program, from which they can be signed as free agents or allocated to an NFL practice squad.

Australians Jordan Mailata and Matt Leo are among the 16 IPP players currently on NFL rosters.

"There have been approaches (for Burton) to do the trials and all that sort of stuff," Riolo said.

"(But) that's not on our radar at this stage.

"When I say it's not on our radar, you never say never with something like that."

Burton is off-contract at the end of 2023, meaning he is free to negotiate with rival clubs or codes for 2024 and beyond.

But he appears likely to remain in the NRL at least in the short-term, Riolo adding the 22-year-old had set his sights on starting in the halves at representative level and helping the Bulldogs back into premiership contention.

"He could (play NFL) tomorrow the way he kicks a ball, but he wants to play footy and he is only young and he's got goals," Riolo said.

"I'm not doing my job if I'm not looking through what commercial opportunities there are for him.

"But for Bulldogs fans and the Bulldogs faithful, unless it goes horribly askew, there'd be no reason (he wouldn't re-sign) provided they can come up with his market value, which I can't see any reason why they wouldn't.

"We've had some really positive talks."

On Monday, the NFL announced two Australians and one Kiwi were among those selected to join the IPP program following the most recent international combine in October.

The Australasian intake includes ex-AFL defender Patrick Murtagh, cut by Gold Coast at the end of this year without playing a senior game, and former rugby back-rower Tali Amosa.

They are set to travel to January for 10 weeks of training in a bid to impress scouts from NFL franchises.

"We are delighted to see these three talented athletes representing Australia and New Zealand on the International Player Pathway for 2023 and competing for a future spot on an NFL roster," said Charlotte Offord, general manager of NFL Australia.

"The International Player Pathway program is an important part of our continued focus on growing the game globally and creating a pathway for international athletes to play in the NFL."