Burgess fulfils boyhood dream
It has been 24 years in the making, but England superstar Sam Burgess is set to fulfil a boyhood dream this weekend when he runs onto the famed Wembley Stadium against the Kiwis on Saturday.
"Playing at Wembley, [it will be] the first time I've ever played there as a professional athlete, as a professional rugby league player, so I'm really looking forward to it. It's been a boyhood dream to play at Wembley Stadium," Burgess said this week.
The World Cup semi-final double-header – Australia and Fiji play off immediately afterwards – will be just the second taste of international rugby league at the refurbished Wembley Stadium since 1997.
A double-header also took place there two years ago during Australia's Four Nations triumph, when England were outplayed 36-20 in a regular group game.
But now, not only does Burgess complete a childhood dream, but he also has the opportunity to lead England to their first World Cup final in 18 years.
"We're up against the Kiwis, the reigning champs. In there I've got a couple of my [South Sydney] team-mates in Issac Luke and Bryson Goodwin," Burgess said.
"There's going to be a lot of mixed emotions there, but I'm really looking forward to the challenge. The English boys are certainly looking forward to it as well and progressing to the next stage hopefully.
"But it's going to be one physical game. They've got some big boys in there, they've got [Sam] Kasiano, Sonny Bill [Williams], [Frank] Pritchard, [Jared Waerea-] Hargreaves... the list goes on. So it's a great challenge for us at Wembley."
While the Kiwis are renowned for their flamboyance, Burgess said the home side would have a few tricks of their own.
"I think the English game is a little bit more flamboyant. We throw the ball around a lot more in England, in the Super League anyway," Burgess said.
"So I think we don't need to follow any structures from other countries. We play to our own strengths and hopefully on the day that's enough for us.
"We've got some talented players. We've got James Graham, some greyhounds in the middle, big brutes in George [Burgess] and Chris [Hill]. And we've got the skills in Rangi [Chase] and Sam [Tomkins]. We've got our own team and our own dynamic so hopefully on the day we can put it all together and get the juice."