Burns sizzles in Jets debut
THE JETS had plenty of high-profile recruits on the paddock at Rosewood last weekend for their first pre-season trial against Souths Logan Magpies.
But it was a relative unknown at fullback who turned the most heads.
Former Wynnum Seagulls prop Ben Shea and Rugby 7s convert Sam Caslick both impressed in their first hit-out with the Ipswich club.
Yet it was former Western Mustang colt Denzel Burns, younger brother to Broncos-listed halfback Jerome Burns, who best staked a claim for an early season berth after making himself comfortable under the high ball against the Magpies.
"He's a young fella we've brought in from Toowoomba, he's lightning fast and has a great instinct for the game," Jets co-coach Shane Walker said of the livewire teenager.
"Fullback is obviously a tough position, particularly against a team (like the Magpies) hell-bent on putting up a series of bombs.
"He was a standout for us on the weekend I thought. He showed great awareness of where to get to and where to be - his sense for an offload. He did a great job."
After Burns' first outing in a green and white jersey, Walker admitted he was a bit confused why the fullback had not already been snapped up by another club prior to the Jets bringing him in.
"He's a slightly built fella, perhaps he's been overlooked because of his build but we don't mind what shape or size you are," Walker said.
"(Premiership-winning Jets captain) Keiron Lander I think coached him in some Indigenous teams, so he was fully aware of him. He's been saying now for one or two years, 'You've got to keep an eye on this kid'.
"He's done a great job in the pre-season, and certainly put himself in a position where, when the opportunity arises, we know he can do a job for us."
The test now for Burns is to show continuity in his performances, as the Jets ramp up their pre-season preparations ahead of a blockbuster opening round clash against the PNG Hunters in Port Moresby.
"We always afford the guys that finished the year the opportunity to start the year," Walker said, stipulating Burns would likely need to wait to get his start in the run-on side.
"Without pre-empting too much, Percy (Michael Purcell) will get first crack at fullback because he's done the job for us for two years.
"(Denzel) likely won't start the year, but he's given himself every chance."
Burns' emergence at the position promises to only increase the selection headaches for the Walker brothers, but Shane welcomes the dilemma.
"Wes (Conlon) is another guy that can play fullback, he's done it for us in the past," Walker said.
"If pushed Marmin (Barba) could as well. There's a lot of depth at the club this year, we've got a really strong 40 guys here and everyone is pushing for a spot.
"We've never been concerned with winning trials. We just want to see guys perform well, compete hard and use their skill, and (Burns) is certainly one that's done that."