Burgess brothers ready to lock horns
Teammates of South Sydney's Burgess twins, George and Tom, as well as Manly teammates of elder brother Luke, are looking forward to a good old-fashioned family feud igniting the Rabbitohs-Sea Eagles clash at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.
While Luke played against Tom in the UK Super League in 2011 when the former was at Leeds and the latter at Bradford, this will be the first time any of the brothers have played against each other in the NRL with all (including Sam Burgess who has since departed for English rugby) having played alongside each other at South Sydney last year.
Manly prop and ex-Rabbitoh Josh Starling said he always looks forward to facing his old club and is glad to welcome Luke 'Biffer' Burgess into the fold for this clash.
"It's something I look forward to, I look for it on the calendar. 'Biffer' is here now too, he's pumped up as well, it's always good to play against some old mates and an old team, have a good battle," Starling told NRL.com.
"He's going to be pumped up and ready to go, he's had a good year so far and I think he's getting better every game."
Asked who would come out on top when the brothers inevitably find each other in the middle of the field, Starling laughed: "I'll back Biffer, I always said he was my favourite Burgess anyway!"
Adding further fuel to the fire, Starling and Manly teammate Justin Horo revealed that Luke had given the squad some pointers in a team video session about how to handle his little brothers and the big Rabbitohs pack.
"We had some video today, he was focused and pumped up about the game so he's going to be switched on and he's going to have a big one," Starling said.
Added Horo: "He gave us a little bit in the video session [Tuesday] morning with the forwards, he gave us a few things that we can maybe work on but we'll keep them to ourselves and we'll see if we can work on it Friday night."
And who would Horo back when Luke and his brothers come together?
"Luke 100 per cent! We've got his back."
Unsurprisingly it was the opposite story over at Redfern, where John Sutton reckoned the twins would help fuel his side's quest for a Friday night win.
"It'll be good to see Georgie and Tommy get into him. [I'd back] the twins for sure," he said.
However five-eighth Luke Keary threw a curveball with his suggestion that ex-teammate Luke may have the measure of his younger brothers.
"I think they played each other in England so hopefully they get in a blue or something and we can see how they go!" he laughed.
"I reckon Luke will towel both of them up! Nah, they're all good fellas, it'll be good to see them play against each other. Obviously the team doesn't care about brothers playing against brothers but for the individual it'd be pretty enjoyable coming up against your brother. It'll be good fun watching them go at it out in the middle there."
As a former Rabbitoh Starling was well aware of the threat the defending premiers posed, especially with both first-choice halves back together after some injury disruptions.
"They're always dangerous, I played pretty much a whole year with Keary at the [North Sydney] Bears before I came over here. He's such a good player and Reynolds has such a good kicking game. I played 20s with him as well, we know what they're capable so we're going to have to be switched on," Starling said.
As someone who has only recently come back from his own injury layoff, Starling said it had been frustrating watching on while his side slumped to the foot of the ladder.
"It definitely was [frustrating], doing my medial then coming back and doing it again, then coming back and rolling my ankle wasn't the start I wanted but I've had a couple of games back now, I played a reserve grade game the other week and blew the cobwebs out then had 20 minutes on the weekend so I'm looking to increase my minutes and increase my quality of work as well," he said.
"The body's feeling fresh I haven't done much this year so I'm feeling fresh and ready to go."