The five days that may cost Burgess an NRL career
England and Souths winger Joe Burgess is hoping the five days between him signing a deal to return home to Wigan before being picked up on a short-term deal by the Rabbitohs don't end up meaning the end of his rugby league career in Australia.
The 21-year-old international had a disappointing start to his time in the southern hemisphere, taking part in the Roosters' World Club Series campaign and Round 1 loss to the Rabbitohs before finding himself languishing in reserve grade. Frustrated by a lack of opportunity he took a chance to sign a three-year-contract back home mere days before an injury-hit Rabbitohs came calling.
The three-Test veteran is adamant he wasn't done with Australia but equally, insists loyalty dictates he won't be looking to renege on his Wigan deal.
"It was a weird week when it all happened. I was signed to go back home then the opportunity to come to the Rabbitohs came up so it was quite strange," Burgess said.
He didn't want to be returning home leaving unfinished business in terms of his NRL career and still wants to challenge himself in the toughest competition in the world.
"I'm a man of my word so I'm going home at the end of the year no matter what. But I'm definitely considering coming back, because I do enjoy it here and I do enjoy the challenge," he said.
"I know it hasn't gone to plan at the start, but that's just life and hopefully I get another opportunity in a few years' time."
Burgess's career goals are relatively simple: "I'll go home and hopefully win a few comps there and then come back and win a few comps here!" he said.
"I'm only 21 and turning 22 in October, so I've still got quite a bit of time and that's why I'm definitely considering coming back.
"I've come across so young, so hopefully it will encourage other younger players to come out here and have a crack. That's what we need for the international game as well."
Adding to his frustration at leaving so early is the fact he would have liked to continue on under former Wigan mentor Michael Maguire.
"It felt more like Wigan [at Souths compared to the Roosters] because obviously Michael Maguire was at Wigan and a lot of his ways did stay. It felt like pretty similar to Wigan. I'm just glad I'm getting an opportunity now and playing some game time," Burgess added.
"He's good, he just wants the best for us. I think he's sick of seeing us trying so hard without coming away with the results and that's what's annoying him and what's annoying us so we just need to fix those things and we'll get those wins."
The fact that most of the recent success stories in terms of Super League players moving to the NRL are forwards isn't lost on the young winger. While the likes of the Burgess brothers (no relation) at Souths and James Graham at the Bulldogs have been among the best players in the NRL in recent years and hooker Josh Hodgson and back-rower Elliott Whitehead are excelling at Canberra, no backs of late have had a comparable impact.
Burgess hoped the addition of Test centre Dan Sarginson to the Titans' roster next year could help change that and hopes for the sake of the international game more English players head to Australia in the coming years.
"I know a few more players are coming out next year, like Dan Sarginson. I loved playing with him. He was my centre last year and I think he'll kill it over here," Burgess added.
His namesake, prop George Burgess, said it was a shame to see the young flyer depart so soon and hoped he'd be back at some stage.
"He's awesome, he's just a great lad and real easy to get on with, all the boys have taken him in really easily, he's a top quality bloke and it's good to have him here," George Burgess said of the winger.
"Hopefully we could have him here for a bit longer but I think he's set on going back to Wigan at the end of the year."
George played his first ever game alongside Joe in last weekend's loss to Brisbane, although the pair were in England camp together in 2014.
"The first time I played with him was on the weekend. We were in the England squad together in 2014 but we didn't get to play together that year. But we trained together and were in the squad together for the whole camp," George said.
"He's definitely a great pickup for us, he'd be a good pickup for any team and he's a certain starter for any NRL team I think. It's a shame to see him going back to the super League but he might be back out here one day.
"He's a pretty loyal bloke, he's signed his contract with Wigan so I think he's going to stick to that. He might get the opportunity, he's still young, he's 21 years old, he's got a lot of years left in his career so I'm sure we'll see him back out in Australia again one day."