Very rarely do you see the same halves combination stick around for more than a couple of years – but in the case of the Penrith Panthers, this is exactly what is happening, as Travis Burns and Luke Walsh enter their third season playing together in the halves.
“You don’t see the same halves playing for this long anymore,” Walsh said.
“This is our third year and we’ve got a little combination happening. Last night was the best we’ve played together,” Walsh said.
“I think Travis has taken more responsibility with getting the ball in his hands more, which has taken the pressure off me, and when I see something I’ll take the ball.”
Burns said of Walsh: “It’s time for us to show what we can do on the paddock and for us to do well this year, Walshy and I need to be steering the team around well.
“Walshy has played nearly 100 NRL games, he’s not a rookie anymore, he’s been really switched on and dedicated to his footy, and hopefully that brings the best out of him.”
It is not only on the field that Burns and Walsh know each other well, but also off the field, with the two halves striking up a strong bond, one that Panthers captain Luke Lewis has noticed, as well as their form.
“Watching them last night I thought they really complemented each other well,” Lewis said.
“Hopefully they can both stay injury-free.
“Walshy has his kicking game and organises the team the way we need him to, which he did last night, and Burnsy is the aggressive bloke we love playing with and helping Walshy when needed.”
The Panthers are looking to head in a new direction with new head coach Ivan Cleary, and Walsh is pleased that the new coach is on board already.
“The best thing Ivan has done for me is tell me I don’t have to touch the ball every time.
“Last year I felt like I had to get the ball in my hands and create something all the time.
“He said to take a backward step, relax and let Travis take more responsibility.
” Last year was a tortuous year in terms of results, playing with no confidence as a team, and all that stuff added up.”