Super League Heroes – Travis Burns
Travis Burns was born in Texas, Queensland, in February 1984. He played his first rugby league for the Wattles Warriors in Texas, where he came to the attention of the Manly Sea Eagles. Burns made his first grade debut for Manly in 2005, and was named the club’s Rookie of the Year in 2006. His career took a step backwards in 2007, and after featuring in only 12 games for Manly in 2007, he signed a three-year deal to play for the North Queensland Cowboys from 2008.
Burns’ tenure at North Queensland was marred by injury and suspension, and after just two years he left to join the Penrith Panthers for the 2010 NRL season. Looking back, Burns later said that he thought his first season at Penrith was his best in rugby. During three seasons with the Panthers, during which time he played alongside future St Helens team-mate and Rovers favourite, Mose Masoe, he played in 55 games, scoring 13 tries and displaying another side to his game as an occasional goal-kicker.
In August 2012, Burns was handed a 12-match suspension for two offences, as a result of which he was released from his contract at Penrith, and made the move to the UK, at the age of 28, seeking a fresh start with the Robins. Due to that suspension, Burns missed the first four matches of the 2012 season, and made his debut in a 26-12 home win over Warrington in March 2013. It is fair to say that it took Burns a few games to come to terms with the English game and his new team-mates, but as the season progressed he showed his worth. His first try came in a 26-22 home win over Castleford later that month, a game in which he also kicked three goals. A two-try performance against Huddersfield in mid-season was instrumental in helping the Robins overturn a half-time deficit to beat the Giants 35-28. Two weeks later, he scored one try and created another as Rovers halted a four-match losing run at St Helens with a 24-12 win.
Coach Craig Sandercock was sufficiently impressed to make Burns co-captain with Josh Hodgson for the 2014 season, as well as his chief play-maker, following the departure of Michael Dobson. Burns responded brilliantly with an outstanding season. He also took over Dobson’s mantle as goal-kicker, landing a superb touchline conversion in the last minute as Rovers fought back from an 18-point half-time deficit to claim a point in the second game of the season, at Huddersfield. Burns was the front-runner in the Albert Goldthorpe Medal table for much of the season, eventually finishing third behind Danny Brough and Kevin Brown.
Burns played in every game for Rovers in 2014 for Hull KR, and although it was not a great season for the club, Burns was behind a lot of the Robins’best moments. His form attracted the attention of St Helens, for whom half-back Luke Walsh was out with a long-term injury, and at the end of the season, Rovers accepted a £60,000 bid from the Lancashire club to secure his services on a three-year deal. Burns played his last game for the Robins in a 42-18 win at Wakefield in September 2014.
Mainly a half-back, who could also play at hooker, Burns was a skillful and creative player who read the game well and had a real determination to win. With his tough and aggressive nature, forceful defence, and an occasional hot-headed streak, he was a popular figure with the fans. In all, he played in 49 games for the Robins, kicking 85 goals, plus two drop-goals, and scoring eight tries.
Unfortunately for him, after a decent season in 2015, in which he made 29 appearances, things did not work out at St Helens as Burns had hoped. He went on loan to Leigh Centurions in 2016, before returning to Australia to play in the Queensland Cup in the 2017 season for his former team-mate Adam Brideson, who was the coach at the Wynnum Manly Seagulls. After just missing the play-offs with the Seagulls, Burns then returned to his roots to play for the Wattles, with a view to moving into coaching as his playing career drew to a close. He also took on a new career opportunity outside rugby in car sales.