Despite missing Greg Inglis, Ben Te'o and Chris McQueen, Sam Burgess believes the Origin period will be key to the Rabbitohs' charge to the top eight. Credit: Robb Cox. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Rabbitohs workhorse Sam Burgess has claimed the shift of focus away from the Telstra Premiership with State of Origin around the corner is a plus for South Sydney, as they look to surge towards the top eight.
While admitting that a difficult block of games lay ahead for the 10th placed Rabbitohs, Burgess is happy to for the day-to-day media focus to be on something other than the NRL for the time-being, despite losing Greg Inglis, Chris McQueen and Ben Te'o to Queensland Origin duty.
"It's actually nice. Obviously there's a lot going on with the Origin boys but it's a good period to work hard on things," Burgess said.
"There are pros and cons in [the State of Origin period] either way. It gives a good opportunity for the boys to come in and get some game time... and have a crack at first-grade."
"We've got a squad of 30 and everyone's very important so it's good that everyone has a deeper involvement. The weight shifts off the NRL a lot more, the pressure isn't as high, which for some players is probably better for them."
"If you break it down, we've got some byes coming up so the Origin period is always tricky. You just have to do your best and get as many wins as you can. We miss our boys before all three [Origin] games but that's sport, it's always a challenge."
With experienced winger Joel Reddy, former Queensland 18th man Ben Lowe and the Club's all-time leading try-scorer Nathan Merritt given a chance to redeem themselves in first-grade against the Sharks this Monday night, Burgess expects the three veterans to lift the side.
"[Merritt's] not a bad replacement [for Inglis], obviously he hasn't been in the side for the last couple of weeks with young Alex Johnston doing a good job, but 'Mez' knows the team inside and out and he's going to really enjoy coming back in and he'll do a cracking job for us over the next few weeks," Burgess said.
In their third consecutive Monday night fixture against one another, this Round 11 showdown looms as a tricky prospect for the Rabbitohs, especially considering their 27-14 loss last Friday night against the Melbourne Storm.
"[The Sharks] seem to be a bit of a bogey team against us on a Monday night down at Remondis but they're a tough team so we'll be expecting that on Monday night.
"They're missing Gal [Paul Gallen] and a few of the boys but they certainly seem to stand-up, [Wade] Graham always stands up when those boys are missing so it'll be another challenge for us."