Keeping up with the Burgesses
The best reality TV producers in the world couldn't create a storyline quite like that of the Burgess family from Dewsbury in England.
The Australian media and by extension the Australian public's fascination with the first family of footy began when Sam was wooed to come to our shores on the set of a Russell Crowe film in 2009 and then upon his arrival set about wooing the Sydney social set.
Such was the interest in Sam's arrival – so poetically described as "the sparkly-eyed man" by Crowe himself – that a camera crew followed almost his every move and a documentary was shown in the week prior to the 2013 NRL Grand Final, somewhat unfortunately the week after the Rabbitohs' exit from the premiership.
Eldest brother Luke soon followed and when the final two pieces of the puzzle turned out to be identical twin little brothers bigger than any brothers have ever been, we fell over ourselves looking for new ways to tell their story.
When Thomas decided to move to Australia in late 2012 the family was reunited and attention soon turned to the possibility that all four could one day play together for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
That historical moment came in Round 25, 2013 but now with Sam back in England chasing a rugby union dream it is the twins who are left to carry the family's fortunes in the international arena.
Without a tape measure to gauge the two centimetres Thomas has in extra height, dressed in team kit the pair are next to impossible to tell apart.
"I'm rooming with one of them, I still can't tell them apart!" Chris Hill tells NRL.com. "Tom could be sleeping next to me, it could be George; I wouldn't have a clue.
"The only way I can tell them is if they're looking forward, George has got a bent nose, Tom's is not. Simple as that.
"George fancies himself as a good dancer, good mover, Tom's a bit wooden," was the only additional defining quality Hill could offer.
Despite best endeavours to find out in which way they were different – who cries more, who's a better cook, who has the funkier wardrobe – the blunt answer from George was this: "We're pretty similar mate, that's why we're twins."
Which in itself raises the question as to how two elite, professional sportsmen can forge singular identities when even their own teammates can't tell them apart?
Before reuniting the family at Redfern and allowing his mother, Julie, to be around all her four boys again, Thomas had to decide whether to pursue his career with Bradford or seek an opportunity to play alongside his three brothers in the toughest rugby league competition in the world.
Having spent two years as the lone Burgess boy in the northern hemisphere, Thomas knew that by moving to Sydney a large part of him would once again revert to being 'one of the twins'.
"You can't really get too annoyed [about being confused for the other]. It can happen up to 10 or 20 times a day for me sometimes. I get called George probably more than George gets called Thomas because George has been out here longer than me," says Thomas. "I'm used to it now, used to being called George.
"When I lived in the UK for two years without George I got used to being called Thomas again and then I came back out here and started getting called George every day but that's all right, we have a bit of fun with it.
"I had an option to stay in England or an option to give it a shot in Australia but looking back it was a no-brainer for me to come out here and give it a shot.
"It's the best competition in the world for rugby league so for me to improve my game and improve myself as a player I didn't have to think too hard about it. Coming back and rejoining with all my family, my mum moved out with me so we were all reunited so it was a pretty easy decision for me."
In terms of personalities George tends to be the more reserved compared to Thomas, who when the England team were given permission to have a night out on the Gold Coast took the initiative to sort out the venue for all the boys and acted as the 'host with the most'.
They take turns cooking the same meals – "Chicken and veg, the standard footy player's diet"; can succumb to a tear-jerker – "To be honest, on a film, we both have a bit of a cry every now and again" but do have some differences when it comes to their clothing style.
If you see the boys out and one is wearing a New Era snapback cap, that's Tom. If one of them is wearing a shirt that even Thomas describes as "out-there", that's George.
Their point of view differs on whether their mother enjoys the limelight that comes with being the matriarch of a family of physical freaks but both agree that despite losing their father at a young age, they are fortunate to have shared in something rather extraordinary.
"We always talked about it being lads growing up, saying how good would it be to one day all play together and when we got towards it it was a big thing. We're not surprised that the Australian press loved it as well, we loved it," Thomas says.
"It was a frequently asked question when we were growing up, how good would it be if you could all play together at some point," adds George. "We'd always brush it off a little bit and say that it would be cool to do it but you've got to get into the team first and that kind of thing. It just happened naturally for us, we always played in the back garden together as kids and we always loved playing together and being around each other.
"What better way to do it than for a full-time job at a great club like South Sydney."