Matt Burton’s teammates rallied around him on Sunday night after the 20-year-old fill-in five-eighth missed five field goals that would’ve given Penrith victory against Newcastle.
With the scores locked at 14-all, Burton attempted to break the deadlock on numerous occasions but wasn’t successful.
While many rookie halves would’ve went into their shell after one or two misses, Burton persevered – proving he’ll be better for the experience in the long run.
Panthers powerhouse Viliame Kikau said Burton, who was filling in for a suspended Nathan Cleary, had the full trust of his teammates.
“All of us boys had faith in him to do the job,” he said.
“We know Nathan has the ability to steer the team around the park but, as we said after the game, we have a lot of trust in Burto too and I actually thought his kicking game was really good throughout the match.”
Penrith winger Brian To’o said Burton was kicking stones after the nail-biter, but they showed him plenty of support in the sheds.
“We just tried to keep his spirits up, he was a bit down about it but we just kept him positive and told him to hold his head up high,” he said.
“Burto did his job but it wasn’t the outcome we needed. We win together, we lose together, we draw together.”
Penrith had a huge opportunity to go into Round 4 on the back of three consecutive wins, instead they had to settle for a rare draw last Sunday night – the club’s first since 2009 – after Newcastle fought back from 14-0 down. To’o said the group was disappointed they let the lead slip against a depleted Knights outfit.
“It wasn’t really the result we wanted but it was our first hit out with the new ‘six-again’ rule, and something we’ll take out of that is that we held our own and stuck together right to the very end,” he said.
“Obviously we didn’t come through with the win but we’ll continue to work on that and stay positive about it.”
Kikau, who scored the game’s opening try and was dominant every time he touched the ball, said his side needs to focus on both their starts and finishes.
“It’s been an issue the last two years, starting slow and then at the backend of the game we try and catch up,” he said.
“We’ve been doing that for the last two years, winning games in the final minute. It was addressed during the pre-season about starting fast and being aggressive from the beginning.”
Kikau will be fit and raring to go against the Warriors tonight, despite concerns he’d suffered a shoulder problem against the Knights.
“The body is feeling good… I just had a stinger on the same shoulder that I did against the Roosters in Round 1,” he said.
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.