Burgess twins bigger - and maybe better - than ever
The Burgess twins are carrying more weight than ever and packing a punch once more thanks to an overhauled Rabbitohs training regime.
George Burgess is tipping the scales at 126kg this season, and slowly getting back towards the kind of output that made him one of the NRL's most damaging props en route to South Sydney's 2014 Telstra Premiership success.
With brother Tom carrying a similarly intimidating amount of muscle mass, Anthony Seibold's new strength and conditioning team of Jarrod Wade and Cato Rutherford have the twins on tailored speed and power-centric weights programs.
The results in the gym have seen George squat a gut-busting - and club-record - 300kg, while on the paddock he's upped his average playing minutes (33 to 35), running metres (90m to 97m) and tackles (17 to 22) per game as the Rabbitohs jostle for a top-four berth.
Tom is also posting similar improvements across his game time (41 minutes to 46 minutes), average yardage (118m to 129m) and tackle busts (1.5 to 2.8) per game.
Souths travel north to take on the struggling North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday night, and Burgess credits the Redfern support staff for the team's impressive play under rookie coach Seibold.
"I'm at the heaviest I've ever been actually, 125 to 126 kilos," Burgess told NRL.com.
"But I feel alright carrying it, as long as I keep working on my fitness and my lateral movement it's going well.
"If you can carry the weight - you've got to monitor it obviously, you can't be getting too big - but it's pretty handy in contact.
"I was a lot lighter last year but I'm feeling better at this weight. A lot of credit in that pre-season has to go to Wadey and Cato in our strength and conditioning program.
"They've put in some changes, it's the kind of stuff that goes unnoticed by most but there's a lot of hard work going on in the background from them.
"As a bigger body there is a few different things to it. We've got pilates which helps the mobility, there's a lot more power-based stuff that's been brought in this year too."
Rutherford joined the Rabbitohs high-performance team last October having helped train Jarryd Hayne for his transition from rugby league to the NFL, and also boasts a military background as an ex-commando.
Wade was brought to the club by former coach Michael Maguire a year earlier, having filled strength and conditioning roles with Parramatta and the AFL's Essendon Bombers.
Working under head of performance Paul Devlin, Wade and Rutherford have the Burgess boys fit and firing once more after a couple of frustrating lean years.
George is quick to point out he and his teammates are still some way off their 2014 pace, when he was churning out 151 metres a game and 73 tackle busts for the season.
The big Bunny's favourite statistic is his oft-discussed error column: one mistake every three games in 2018 is the lowest it's been across his entire career.
Now finally injury-free after hip, groin and hand issues, Burgess is bigger than ever before and building himself back up, but cautions he and the Rabbitohs haven't achieved anything yet.
"It was frustrating, your body not being able to do what you want it to do," Burgess says.
"That's what gets to you and it's the biggest challenge you face as a player with those injuries - it's that mental side of the game that every player goes through. You have to be mentally strong enough to come back from them.
"A lot of people talk about 2014, we won the grand final then and I thought I was playing better football in 2015 too.
"This year there is an improvement, we're moving together a lot more in attack, so it'd look like we're tracking well. But that said, we've done absolutely nothing yet, it's only 10 weeks into the season."