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Burt comes full circle in NRL retirement

Retiring Parramatta stalwart Luke Burt can't help but appreciate the symmetry of his NRL career ending the same way it began.
Burt comes full circle in NRL retirement
by NRL

By Ben Horne

SYDNEY, Aug 30 AAP - Retiring Parramatta stalwart Luke Burt can't help but appreciate the symmetry of his NRL career ending the same way it began.

Against St George Illawarra, in front of a big crowd at ANZ Stadium and with great mate Nathan Hindmarsh playing alongside him, his farewell reflects his debut.

When Burt burst onto the scene as a skinny and beach-blond 17-year-old in front of a world record crowd of more than 100,000 at the opening of the Olympic Stadium in 1999, the Eels beat the Dragons 20-10.

Hindmarsh, who is also retiring, and Burt will deservedly take a lap of honour regardless of Sunday's result.

But with a crowd in excess of 50,000 expected to farewell two of the club's modern-day greats, Parramatta are hoping Burt's career can go full circle and finish with victory over the Dragons on Sunday evening.

Back in 1999, second-rower Hindmarsh, who had debuted the season previous and was a couple of years older, and winger Burt weren't the tight friends they are today.

Hindmarsh was living with Daniel Wagon in Sans Souci, while Burt was spending his social time with Hindmarsh's brother Ian, Michael Hodgson and Casey McGuire.

But the Eels' mega 2001 season, where they broke points-scoring records and made the grand final, bounded them together for life.

"We've been through everything and I couldn't ask for a better bloke to go through it with," Burt told AAP.

"I remember being very, very nervous (for my debut).

"I started off the bench and I remember I was a bit in awe of the size of the crowd. I was a bit stunned the first few minutes and hardly watched the game - I was more watching what was going on in the crowd.

"I'd love to see another big crowd at the stadium with blue and gold on Sunday."

Fittingly, the pair shared their final media conference together on Thursday at Parramatta Stadium.

Burt reserved high praise for 32-year-old Hindmarsh, a veteran of 307 first grade games for the Eels.

"He's a legend throughout the game and that's not Parramatta legend - that's NSW legend, Australian legend. The things he's done in his position ... I've said before, I'm not sure if we'll see another bloke do what he's done," said Burt.

"The amount of tackles per game for 15 years, I don't think I've seen another bloke do that and his body's a mess and he just turns up every week."

Burt joked he's riding on the coat-tails of Hindmarsh's retirement this week: "Half you blokes (media) wouldn't be here if it was just me by myself!"

Hindmarsh, however, was quick to point out the ever-reliable Burt was playing down his own achievements.

The 31-year-old trails only Mick Cronin as the highest points-scorer in Eels' history and, with 263 NRL games to his name - only Hindmarsh and Brett Kenny (265) have more.

"Everyone that knows him well knows he's just one of those players that gets out and does his job and does it well," Hindmarsh said.

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