TRAVIS Burns has copped it on the chin. Now it's time for a fresh start.
The feisty playmaker oversaw his final home game at Centrebet Stadium last Saturday afternoon before joining Super League club Hull KR in England next year.
While a send-off followed by a 12-match ban wasn't the ideal way to end his Panthers journey, Burns's last moments in a Penrith jumper, late in that unfortunate round 20 clash, constituted him defending his try-line and being every bit the tireless, whole-hearted, gutsy, five-eighth that has made him an invaluable member of the Panthers for the past three years.
"I've had a great time here and I've made a lot of friends and it's hard to leave the NRL the way I'm leaving it, but they're the cards I've been dealt," Burns said.
"I've got to start a new chapter of my life and that's over in England so I'm pretty excited.
"I've always wanted to play in the Super League and finish my career over there, and Hull have been good enough to give me the opportunity to do that."
Reflecting on his time with the Panthers, Burns said former head coaches Matthew Elliott and Steve Georgallis had played a big role in helping him unleash his best footy and added that the club's high-flying 2010 season was one of his fondest memories.
"No-one predicated us to make the eight and we ended up second so it was a big achievement by us all," Burns said.
"And the mates I've made around here, too — when you play with each other on the field you become my brothers and that's how I feel the boys are now."
During his 56 games for the Panthers, Burns scored 13 tries, 25 goals and one field goal for a total of 103 points.
The 28-year-old praised Panthers supporters and his parting message was one of gratitude.
"I just want to thank them for all their support," he said.
"They're very loyal fans, they're very vocal fans — they're probably some of the best fans that I've dealt with."
He added that the club's future looked "really strong".
"As long as [Panthers general manager rugby league] Phil Moss is around, this club is going to down the right track because he's so professional and he's just a good bloke," he said.
"I think they've bought really well for next year.
"My fingers are crossed and I'll be keeping an eye on them when I'm over in England and hoping the boys go well and make the eight."