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Matthew Burke Article


Mr. Laxative

Matthew Coleman Burke (born March 26, 1973 in Sydney) is arguably the greatest fullback Australia has ever seen.

Early rugby career:
Starting out by playing at St. Joseph's College, Hunters Hill, Burke's long career in representative rugby began in 1990 when he toured the United States and Ireland with the Australian Schoolboys. He then graduated to the Australian Under 21s team in 1992 and 1993 at the same time as playing at the Hong Kong Sevens in 1992 and the Rugby World Cup Sevens in 1993. His Test debut was inevitable in 1993 when he played in the Third Test against the South African Springboks.

He was once considered and still is by many to be the best fullback in the world and a great rival, in terms of goal-kicking, to New Zealand's five-eighth Andrew Mehrtens. One of the greatest Test fullbacks of all time, Matthew Burke has been a Wallaby for a decade. His third year as New South Wales Waratahs captain saw him become the first player in the history of Waratah rugby to play over 100 games.

He is the most successful Australian fullback against New Zealand's All Blacks and has taken particular delight in upsetting New Zealanders, which has included scoring one of Australia's greatest Bledisloe Cup tries, in 1996, perhaps one of the most memorable tries of the entire decade. From a standing start in Brisbane, Burke broke through numerous New Zealand tackles, throwing a dummy to off-balance several other All Blacks, before running 70 metres for a memorable individual try. In 1998 he scored all 24 of the Wallabies points against New Zealand at the MCG, a world record against the All Blacks. A deed he repeated when he scored all of Australia's 23 points to lead them to victory against the All Blacks in 2001. Although Burke would be plagued by games where his goal-kicking ability deserted him, such as the game a week afterwards in 1998, when he missed five attempts.

As the Wallaby fullback in 1999 he scored an amazing 23 points against the All Blacks at Stadium Australia, 24 points against South Africa in the RWC semi final and 25 points against France in the grand final; in effect winning Australia the world cup.

Recent accomplishments:
Burke is Australia's most capped fullback, having played 54 of his 82 Tests in that position. After breaking 1000 career points for NSW in 2003, he currently (2004) sits on 878 Test points. Wallaby selectors saw the value of Burke's leadership by retaining him as vice-captain for the 2002 season. In that season, Burke added to his national worth when he kicked a penalty after fulltime to win the Bledisloe Cup in windy conditions at Stadium Australia. He has also proved his worth in defence, with the ability of being able to get into rucks and mauls without worry. While in recent years, he is been flickering, he is still the brilliant goal-kicker that he was a decade ago. As of August 2004, Matt Burke played for the NSW Waratahs in the position of fullback/centre.

Matt Burke played his last test on August 21, 2004 against the South African Springboks- this was despite being dropped from the lesser NSW Waratahs the same season, the Australian coach describing it as an "independent event". It was coincidently 11 years to the day that he had also debuted for the Wallabies, also against the Springboks. While his international career is over, Australian coach Eddie Jones had hinted that Burke's journey may not be over yet for at least another year afterwards with the possibility of him being called up for Australia's tour of the UK. Burke denied this possibility and was proven right when it never eventuated. After losing his NSW contract, Burke was offered contracts by eight different clubs - including the Queensland Reds and teams in New Zealand, South Africa, Italy, France and England.

He is currently in the UK to play out his career for the Newcastle Falcons in the Zurich Premiership, as result of his dumping from the NSW Waratahs. Burke has signed a new two-year deal with Newcastle, committing him to Kingston Park until the summer of 2008. He has been voted starting fullback in the 'Wallaby Team of the Decade', has also won the 'Player of the Year' at the Falcons and more recently has captained the side.

Holds 22 Australian Rugby records and 7 International records
Eastwood (1990-2004)
NSW Waratahs (1990-2004)
Rugby Sevens Australia (1993)
Australian Wallabies (1993-2004)
Rugby World Cup Australia (1995, 1999 (winners), 2003 (runners-up))
PM's XV (1999, 2000-2002)
Barbarians (1999,2001,2003,2004,2005)
Newcastle Falcons (2004-)
Wallaby of the Year (1996)
Sydney Morning Herald Player of the Year (1996-1998)
Twentieth most capped international of all time.
Highest Super 12 scorer of all time.
Second-highest scorer of all time in the Tri Nations Series (behind Andrew Mehrtens).

From Wikipedia.com

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