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Burton is a good bench option: Wing

The True Blue who made the No.14 jersey his own – Craig Wing – is leaning towards Canterbury-Bulldogs half Matt Burton as the player he’d like to see fill the utility role for the Westpac NSW Blues for the 2023 Ampol State of Origin series.

The campaign begins with Game One in Adelaide on 31 May with Westpac NSW Blues coach Brad Fittler to name his side 10 days earlier after the completion of Round 12 in the NRL.

Wing scored two tries in his 12 matches for NSW (2003-2009), coming off the bench each time.

“From a No.14 point of view, it’s not someone who should be in the team, so we’ll just stick him on the bench,” Wing told program, Behind Blue Eyes.

“That person really needs to have a certain skills set. They need to be able to cover a number of positions, particularly the halves or even hooker.

“They need to be tough, they need to be consistent, and they need to change the tempo of the game when they come on the field.

“There are characteristics of Burton that I like – I’ll put him out there as an option.

“He’s tough, got a kicking game, and can stand up for himself and he’s got a bit of speed too.”

This week Fittler was at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence to put the CABE Country-City Under 16s and Under 18s through a few training drills, skills and techniques.

He was asked if Burton was far back in the queue behind established centres Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic.

Burton made his Origin debut at left centre in 2022 when Mitchell and Trbojevic were out injured.

“Matty has the advantage of being able to play other positions,” Fittler said on Wednesday.

“If you go back to Origin last year, the first couple of minutes we had three players gone for the game,” he said in reference to failed HIA tests for Cameron Murray (NSW), Selwyn Cobbo and Lindsay Collins (QLD) in Game Three.

“So you need to have some versatility among your team. It’s pretty tricky because you’ve got three games – but you need to nail each one.”

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