'Little' Burgess brother now a leader for England
When South Sydney premiership hero Sam Burgess and his fiancé were sighted sitting next to England coach Steve McNamara at Leigh Sports Village on Saturday, conclusion were not so much jumped towards as shot at.
The rumours about Burgess making an early return from rugby union were already there. Now it seemed to have become as certain as rugby league encountering a controversy or two at some stage in the next decade.
But one thing about the scene of Burgess's appearance seems to have been lost in translation – his little brother. Tom was playing for his country that afternoon, against France. Not a bad alibi for Sam.
In rugby league, we have a curious habit of only bestowing celebrity upon those who leave us.
Having had Sam steal the limelight from his brothers by leaving for the bright lights of Sydney in 2010, it must seem to Tom and twin George – who each re-signed for Souths until 2018 last week – that it's happened all over again.
But although he's only 23, Thomas Burgess seems a man determined to hew a path of his own.
"I love coming home," the giant forward tells NRL.com ahead of Sunday's opening Anglo-New Zealand international in Hull.
"I miss all my friends here.
"I left when I was 20. You do some growing up between 20 and 23. I'd like to think I'm a bit more mature now.
"I've been living on my own now for three years. You do housework; I've bought a house now in Sydney and there's responsibilities along with that."
Sam Burgess once explained why he was upset with an Australian reporter calling his brothers in Dewsbury by jokingly describing them as being "daft as a brush".
Had Tom stayed at Bradford Bulls, where he made his debut the year before joining South Sydney, he may have escaped housework for a while longer. He may also be running around in the obscurity of the Championship this year instead of playing for his country.
But when he says he sees himself as a "senior" player in Steve McNamara's England squad, it is no laughing matter. "My job in a game is the same as it is every week with Souths – making my metres forward," he explains.
"But I'd like to think, as well as a player in the squad, I can be a bit more of a leader now.
"I'm stepping up in that role. I've been here a few years now and there are some new faces. I tend to think I'm a bit more senior in the group which is good and I'm enjoying that role.
"I'm quite talkative and I like to get the boys together. I'm loving being among the English lads. That's what I miss."
The missing cuts both ways. There the interminable NRL rumours to deal with from afar, and more serious issues – like Burgess' teammates Dylan Walker and Aaron Gray becoming dangerously ill after a run-in with prescription medicine last month.
"We do all keep in touch – we've got those What's App groups and we like to think we're pretty tight," Burgess says.
"Anyone can run anyone and talk any time – you don't need an excuse.
"It's not good to see that happen to anyone at any time – especially your own teammates.
"They've made a mistake there and they club have dealt with it and we've just got to move on from it now, I suppose, and learn a massive lesson.
"And those boys will probably learn the biggest ones."
Other chitter chatter is dismissed with a king-sized Burgess fend. "You only believe something if it comes from the person. That's how I tend to deal with it.
"I know when there was speculation with Madge (Rabbitohs coach Michael Maguire), he nipped it in the bud straight away and told us from himself he want going anywhere.
"There's always speculation, especially in Sydney. You've got to expect that. It's just people doing their jobs really. "
In the absence his brothers, Thomas Burgess' own job at KC Stadium is to hold the monolithic New Zealand forwards so that England can capitalise upon its advantage of experience in the halves.
He scored a try on Sunday in front of Sam, his first for his country. Sam no longer vets Tom's interviews. It's fair to say he outsmarted those brushes long ago.