Burgess warming to the task
English winger Joe Burgess says a chance outing against the Roosters two years ago helped spark his move to the Tricolours ahead of the 2016 NRL Telstra Premiership season.
Burgess was playing for the Wigan Warriors at the time – a club he would score 52 tries in 55 games for – and was more worried about not disgracing himself than playing a starring role.
The Roosters would win that game 36-14 at Allianz Stadium in a rare World Club Challenge match played in Sydney, with Burgess leaving his mark on the match with his side's first try in the 44th minute.
"I played them in the World Club Challenge and I think that's where I got noticed a bit," Burgess told NRL.com.
"I think that was only my third or fourth game and never in a million years did I think a few weeks later they would come knocking on my door with an offer.
"I was basically shitting myself during the game itself. It was the biggest crowd I've played in front of and it was the biggest team I'd ever played. I wasn't the most experienced guy at the time but I think that’s what made it better for me. I had no one to impress so I was just trying to play my natural game."
So impressed were the Roosters that they went on to sign the Englishman on a three-year deal that would tie him down until the end of the 2018 season.
Burgess was only 19 years old when he signed the deal and admitted it was a huge decision to make at such a young age. Ultimately it was an opportunity he couldn't pass up, even it meant leaving his hometown.
"The Roosters approached me and that's what really interested me," he recalled.
"Rather than me going to them and looking for a deal they came looking for me which was a massive compliment. It showed me how much progress I was making at the time. I hadn't played many games at the time when they were first interested.
"It was a massive thing for me because playing for your home town is what you dream of.
"I sort of compared it to football back home, so it was like Real Madrid coming for you. That's what I compared it to and it was something I couldn't turn down.
"From about the age of 12 or 13 I started to watch NRL more and I thought that I'd like to give it a crack one day. So when the opportunity came, I didn't want to turn it down and then in five years' time have a wife and kids and be put in the same position again because that would have changed everything."
Burgess has looked more than solid this year with the Tricolours, scoring a double on debut and featuring in their past two games including the Anzac Day thriller against the Dragons.
Another strong showing against the Titans on Monday night should help him cement a spot in the first grade squad, but Burgess admitted it wasn't just the battle for starting spots that was heating up.
He revealed the brutality of the Sydney summer made the first few weeks in Australia a real struggle. The 21-year-old endured a week of 36 degree days after leaving a wintry Wigan that was bracing for snow.
"At first it was the weather. I did struggle at first; I'm not going to lie," he said.
"21 or 22 degrees back home would be shirts off and barbeque weather but that's just a normal day in May over here. But I quickly acclimatised so even now this weather is starting to feel cool."
Burgess's tough initiation to the harsh Australian climate was a blessing in disguise as it helped condition him to the much faster brand of rugby league played in Australia.
"It's unbelievable how much it actually helps you, especially your fitness," he said when asked about the gruelling pre-season.
Despite being autumn Down Under, Burgess is set to take on the Gold Coast on Monday night in stifling 26 degree conditions; a far cry from the expected top temperature of 14 degrees in Wigan.
The English international winger said Australia's warmer and drier weather meant surfaces were more conducive to running rugby compared to the muddy grounds he played on back in the UK.
"It's not just the players' athleticism that makes the game faster, but the grounds themselves speed everything up," Burgess said of Australian stadia.
"Don't get me wrong, I think you do get a good three or four games during the season in the Super League where the grounds are fast and the teams are better but every game I've played here has been so fast and I think it's the grounds that help that.
"I think one of my strengths comes on the back of kicking. I do like getting up for the ball and there are more opportunities to do that over here.
"I think the speed of the game here plays into my hands. The speed of the ground is a lot better for me rather than the mud bogs back home."
The Roosters winger isn't the first Englishman with the surname 'Burgess' to grace these shores, and while he's flattered to be associated with his South Sydney namesakes, it's now what he wants to be known for.
"Every time someone sees me they ask if we're related. I should really just say that we are," he joked.
"Obviously it is a big name over here, but I want to make a name for myself instead of going off their name."