George Burgess forced into pre-season switch
South Sydney Rabbitohs prop George Burgess reacted to his omission from England’s World Cup squad by cutting short his leave to return earlier than expected for pre-season training under new coach Anthony Seibold.
His shock snubbing by England coach Wayne Bennett forced the 25-year-old prop to seek permission from Seibold to re-schedule his annual leave so he could attend the recent wedding of former Wests Tigers forward Mark Flanagan in Spain.
Seibold agreed but instead of starting training on November 8, Burgess turned up on November 1 and trained with the less-experienced squad members, who are not as entitled to as much leave as those who have played five seasons in the NRL.
“I had it booked for a long time so I asked Seibs if I could still go and I would make up the time by coming back earlier,” Burgess told NRL.com.
“I thought it was important I went to the wedding, he [Flanagan] went to our wedding so I wanted to return the favour and I am appreciative of Seibs for letting me do that.
“I am trying to get as much training in as I can to put my best foot forward for next season.”
Burgess admitted not being able to play alongside brother Sam and Tom in the England side which qualified for the country’s first World Cup final appearance since 1995 was a disappointment but he believes the setback could prove to be a blessing in disguise.
With England regularly playing end-of-season Tests, he hasn’t had a full pre-season since his first year with the Rabbitohs in 2012.
“It is very important early in your career to get those long pre-seasons to get a good base and then, like me, every now and again you need another one to top you up,” he said. “I think I will benefit from it next season.”
Besides the final, which he watched from abroad with Flanagan, he attended most of England’s games, including their epic semi-final defeat of Tonga in Hamilton.
He also attended the match against Lebanon at Allianz Stadium and was captured by the television cameras cheering as twin Thomas crossed for a 40-metre try in which he sidestepped several Cedars defenders.
“My brothers have always been my inspiration and I thoroughly enjoyed watching them and cheering them on from the sideline,” Burgess said.
“For Sammy to captain his country in a World Cup final was massive and I thought Tommy was outstanding throughout the tournament. He took another step in his international career so I was super proud of them both.
“Tommy scored a great try and I was in the crowd with all the crazy fans. It is a different experience being in the crowd with the fans instead of helping on the field but it was cool just to see the reaction the fans give you when you score a try like that. It gave me a different perspective.
“I am a proud Englishman so it was good to see the boys do well and get to the final. I thought they were unlucky not to win it but they did a great job and hopefully I will be there for the next one.”