Burke returns to starting side - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Burke returns to starting side

By Adrian Warren 12/03/2004 05:39:52 AM Comments (0)

Expectant father Matt Burke's big weekend got even bigger when he earned his first start this season in the NSW team for Saturday's Super 12 clash with the Stormers in Cape Town.

Former NSW captain Burke, who will rush home on Sunday for the birth of his second child, was named at fullback in place of in-form Mat Rogers, whose sprained ankle did not recover quickly enough to be risked.

NSW coach Ewen McKenzie made an interesting tactical change among his bench by bringing in speedy flanker Lei Tomiki, who wasn't even in the Waratahs Super 12 squad at the start of the tournament.

Burke, who is Australia's most capped Test fullback, returns to the position after spending the last two seasons at outside centre and starting the current campaign at five-eighth.

The 30-year-old veteran played 25 minutes in the pivot position after coming off the bench against the Cats last week and NSW coach Ewen McKenzie had no doubts about Burke's ability to play an entire game.

"He's been involved in training now for a couple of weeks and has certainly had a taste of football through the Sydney team and 25 minutes last week, so I think he's right to play," McKenzie said.

"He's definitely keen, his attitude has been very good and he's got an opportunity at fullback which is his original position and he's played a lot of football in that position."

McKenzie said Burke would also take over the goal kicking from the absent Rogers.

"I'm playing a position I'm pretty comfortable with, I've played a number of years there so I'm looking forward to what is potentially a very tough game for us," Burke said.

McKenzie said he was hopeful Rogers would be back for next week's game against the Bulls.

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