Dubbo junior Matt Burton part of NSW Emerging Blues squad

GAINING ATTENTION: Matt Burton, pictured during Penrith's pre-season, is part of the Emerging Blues squad. Photo: PENRITH PANTHERS
GAINING ATTENTION: Matt Burton, pictured during Penrith's pre-season, is part of the Emerging Blues squad. Photo: PENRITH PANTHERS

He's long been highly rated in Dubbo and the western area and it's clear to see Matt Burton has caught the eye of many in the upper echelons of the game as well.

The Dubbo product and Penrith Panthers teenager has been named in the Emerging Blues squad which will train alongside Brad Fittler's extended State of Origin side later this month.

After making a name for himself in the lower grades, Burton got his chance in the NRL last season and shone in his debut.

Praise came from all corners following that showing, one that included a deft kick resulting in a try for Wellington junior Brent Naden, and it's clear it caught Fittler's eye.

That remains Burton's lone NRL appearance but he is in the running to make the Panthers' five-eighth jersey his own in 2020 following James Maloney's departure to the Super League.

Burton is one of 14 players in the Emerging Blues while 16 Future Blues have also been selected.

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Those two groups will come together for a training session at the NSWRL Centre of Excellence at Sydney on Thursday, December 12, before a 34-man NW Blues squad joins in the following day.

That 24-man squad includes 24 players who have already represented their state in winning the past two Origin series and 10 yet to make their debut.

Among the new faces is Kotoni Staggs.

The Wellington Cowboys product has enjoyed a huge amount of success with the Brisbane Broncos in recent years and while his club battled in 2019 it was the season in which he stamped himself as one of the most exciting young players in the game.

Staggs cemented himself as a regular in the centres under Anthony Seibold after starting the 2019 season on the bench while he showed his versatility when playing in the halves for Samoa last month.

There are other western connections in the 64-man group, with Staggs' fellow Wellington product Blake Ferguson and Orange junior Jack Wighton again part of the Blues' senior group.

The squads have been named as part of Blues coach Fittler's plan to make it three straight Origin series wins for the Blues.