Brotherly love for Burgess boys
Sam Burgess says it'll be a privilege to play alongside brothers George and Thomas for England at the World Cup, but warns the level of competition in the tournament will be closer than most people expect.
After a few injury-affected seasons, Burgess will pull on the England jersey for the first time since 2010 and is sure to be a key factor in his team's bid to win the tournament on home turf.
Alongside him will be his two younger brothers, who have also earned selection after impressive performances for South Sydney this season.
"It's great," Burgess told England RL. "The twins have worked very hard to get into this position. They deserve it. I've played with them for South Sydney and that's been enjoyable but to wear this jersey with them and to represent my country with my little brothers is going to be fantastic."
Not so lucky has been older Luke Burgess, who surprisingly missed selection in the England squad.
"It's disappointing for Luke, he came through injury and played the back half of the year for us (at Souths). It's obviously tough with us three here and he's a little bit upset," Sam said. "But I think he's going to enjoy his time off in Sydney; he's just had a little girl with his partner Yolanda so I think that will keep his mind off things in his time off."
While admitting tournament favourites Australia and title-holders New Zealand will be as tough to beat as ever, Burgess is confident of England's World Cup chances and was keen to link up with superstar fullback Sam Tomkins, who will play in the NRL with the Warriors next season.
"I think when Sam first came on the scene in England there was always great expectation on him," Burgess said. "He never gets flustered in situations, he's always very calm and composed and I think that's a key why he's been so successful. I'm really happy for Sam how he's progressed as a player. I'm looking forward to seeing how he goes through this World Cup and then enjoy playing against him next year in Australia."
Burgess said the depth of quality across the 14 squads meant the competition would be closer than expected, despite the historic dominance of Australia, New Zealand and England.
"The amount of talent that's in both of those (Kangaroos and Kiwis) squads and in the other respective nations is going to be fantastic. It's probably going to be closer than a lot of people think," he said.
"Australia's got the big three in Smith, Cronk and Slater, and other than that they've got a great forward pack. And Sonny Bill will be there playing for New Zealand.
"We're a good chance. To actually go and win this thing you've got to believe in it.
"I'm really looking forward to being in there and taking on the best in the world, because that's how you test yourself as a player."