The 22-year old Welshman started his Rugby League career at Cardiff Demons through their junior ranks. He played for Wales at under 15, under 16 and under 18 levels including an appearance against the Australian Schoolboys in 2006 for the latter.
He made first team appearances for Celtic Crusaders in 2007 and 2008 as well as starring for their reserves in their 2008 Conference National winning season and in Super League reserves the following year.
He lived in Australia throughout 2010 and signed for New South Wales side Grafton Ghosts, a side just two hours from the Gold Coast. There he was a massive success, helping his club to an unbeaten 100% season with a clean sweep of all three trophies in the New South Wales Group 1 League, winning the Grand Final, Minor Premiership and Clayton Cup.
“I had a fantastic time in 2010 in Australia and I’m grateful to Col Speed and all at Grafton over there for giving me the opportunity,” said Burnell. “But it’s great to be back in Wales and I’m happy to have signed for the Scorpions. I’ve seen from afar how well they did in their first year and I’m looking forward to being a part of it in 2011.”
Scorpions’ player-coach Aled James said: “Tom is a great signing for us. He’ll add competition to our dummy half position and will go head to head with Steve Parry for the starting spot. Tom is a home-grown player of course and he has learned a lot in his year in Australia. This will have helped him come back to Wales as a bigger better player.”