Matt Burton shakes-up Origin race with Nicho Hynes after huge Blues statement

The Bulldogs five-eighth has once again put his hand up for Origin selection.

Matt Burton has received the backing of his NRL coach to make a return to the Origin arena for the Blues after a brilliant start to the year in the No.6 jersey for the Bulldogs, despite Nicho Hynes' form. Counted out ahead of round one, the Bulldogs are now sitting eighth after 10 rounds with four wins and four losses.

Having underachieved last year in the No.6 jersey at club level, Burton has helped guide his team to four victories and his performance against the Tigers on the weekend has shown his growing maturity in the five-eighth role since the start of the season. And his numbers in 2024 show his improvements.

Bulldogs No.6 Matt Burton (pictured left) has entered the race for the Blues five-eighth jersey, despite Nicho Hynes (pictured right) the favourite so far in the eyes of many fans. (Getty Images)
Bulldogs No.6 Matt Burton (pictured left) has entered the race for the Blues five-eighth jersey, despite Nicho Hynes (pictured right) the favourite so far in the eyes of many fans. (Getty Images)

Burton has scored four tries in nine games this year and made five linebreaks so far this season. That is already more than his 2023 stats, which is a result of Burton putting extra emphasis on his running game. His kicking game and solid defence could also act as a different option for Michael Maguire if he opts to go for a running five-eighth next to favoured halfback Nathan Cleary.

The Bulldogs playmaker has entered the equation with Sharks No.7 Nicho Hynes the favourite to partner Cleary in the halves. Jarome Lui and Cody Walker have both played in the No.6 jersey across the last two years, but appear further down the order in 2024. Although Maguire hasn't given any hints on who he wants to play with Cleary next month.

Burton played centre for the Blues in 2022, but was not selected last year in the losing side. But Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo has backed Burton if given the chance to shine in the No.6 jersey and said he only needs a few more solid games to be right in the reckoning.

“I think Matt Burton at his best should be in those teams, but that’s up to ‘Burto’,” Ciraldo said on Monday. “Everyone’s searching for consistency, so if Burto finds that consistency and does it for 80 minutes and does it for a few weeks in a row then we won’t be talking about if he’s in those teams, he will be in those teams.

“He’s getting closer (to his best), but he’s still got a way to go. We’re on the journey with him. I think he’s improved in a lot of things this year, but I’m really excited to see him reach his potential. I know if he does that then we’ll be a better team for it.”

Matt Burton runs the ball.
Matt Burton (pictured) is pushing his case for an Origin recall.

Burton isn't shying away from the fact he wants a recall to the Blues camp and has also suggested he would be happy to play at centre or utility if need. “I’ve had a taste of it so it’d be nice to get back in there, but I’ll just keep doing what’s best for the team and hopefully something comes from it,” Burton added.


“I think I’m just trying to get better each game. I’m just looking at that and trying to implement the things that I can work on. I feel like I’m getting there.” Hynes appears to be the frontrunner so far having not played in the halves at Origin level.

Last year, Hynes debuted for the Blues as the utility and came on at centre for a short time due to an injury. His brutal introduction saw then-coach Brad Fittler drop him from the squad altogether after Game I. Hynes' form bounced back and he was eventually selected to tour with the Kangaroos at the end of the season. Hynes made the admission last week he was ready to wear the Blues jersey again having matured at the end of 2023.