Injury-free Burgess ready to roll
Rabbitohs powerhouse prop George Burgess says he's ready to return to his dominant best after a difficult 2016 that was dogged by injuries.
Burgess wasn't his usual self last season, averaging just 86.9 metres from 17 appearances and passing the 100-metre barrier just five times. Those numbers painted a grim picture when compared to the premiership-winning season of 2014 where he averaged 152.5 metres, including 206 in South Sydney's grand final win over the Bulldogs.
In 2014 he had 75 tackle breaks; last year just 18. From 2013-14 he scored 10 tries but managed just one four-pointer over the next two campaigns.
A man who used to make yards after contact was suddenly being stopped in his tracks in the defensive line. It was clear there was something wrong.
"Last year I had my surgery on my hip in the pre-season and then mid-season I had groin surgery. I also had minor hand surgery. That's all behind me now and I want to look forward to having an injury-free year at Souths," Burgess told NRL.com.
"A big part of my game was the power aspect, and you need that through your hips. It does take longer than usual to recover from, but it's something you've just got to be patient with."
All that seems to be behind him now after Burgess impressed in his side's pre-season trial against the Sea Eagles last week with a series of trademark carries that had the opposition reeling.
The Englishman didn't want to jinx anything yet and said the real test would come when his body had been whacked around on a weekly basis in the NRL.
"I don't suppose anyone's ever really fully fit in rugby league, but it's definitely good to be feeling fresh coming into the new season," he said.
"The real challenge comes after a handful of games when you start to pick up a few knocks. That's when you really have to be on your game with recovery.
"I had a few solid minutes against Manly and I've just got to keep building on that."
Burgess will get his next chance to impress in Sunday afternoon's Charity Shield against the Dragons at ANZ Stadium.
The 24-year-old has been named in the starting side and is champing at the bit to rip in after South Sydney's underwhelming 2016 campaign.
"Everyone's excited now and looking forward to starting with a clean slate in 2017," he said.
"It's such a great game for both clubs. We get to play for our charities and give something back to the community as well, which is such a good thing that we can do as rugby league players."