FORMER Wattles player Travis Burns will reach a milestone on Sunday when he laces his boots and runs on to play in his 100th National Rugby League match.
The Penrith five-eighth, who is enjoying a purple patch despite his club’s wayward season, has been somewhat of a journeyman on his way to reaching his NRL century.
After debuting as an 18-year-old in A-grade for Wattles against the Warwick Cowboys in August 2001, Burns spent 2002 in Brisbane with Eastern Suburbs Tigers.
As the Tigers are a feeder club for the Cronulla Sharks, the talented back got the call to go to Sydney the following year.
He spent two seasons with the Sharks, a highlight being an appearance in the 2004 NSWRL Jersey Flegg (under-20) grand final.
Cronulla was devastated when opposition five-eighth Jamie Soward kicked a field goal in extra time for the Roosters to win the match 14-13. (Soward was in St George-Illawarra’s grand final-winning side last year.)
Burns impressed Manly Sea Eagles coach Des Hasler and spent three seasons from 2005 with the northern beach club, debuting in the NRL in his initial season with Manly against Penrith on July 9, before playing in 40 first-grade games with the club.
Injury and suspensions interfered with Burns’s two-year stint with the North Queensland Cowboys, where he turned out in 32 matches, before heading south to link with Penrith from 2010.
His appearance in last weekend’s 22-16 loss to Manly was his 27th match in a Panthers jersey and 99th in the NRL.
Texas-born Burns will not reach his landmark achievement on Australian soil, running on instead to Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium when Penrith takes on the New Zealand Warriors.
Premiership success still eludes Travis Burns at the game’s elite levels. His last celebration as a member of a season champion side was with the Inglewood/Millmerran U-13s of 1997.
The former Darling Downs Schoolboys U11 captain played his junior rugby league with Inglewood/Texas and Inglewood/Millmerran, before lining up with Wattles juniors as a 13-year-old.
He was an outstanding footballer, with both the Warwick and District Junior Rugby League and the South West Mustangs. He played 31 games in Wattles senior grades in 2000-01.
Wattles supporters, along with the Texas league fraternity, will hope for a Panthers win on Sunday to celebrate the century of matches.
Burns joins Shane Webcke and Kirk Reynoldson as ex-Wattles players to play 100 NRL matches.
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