Burgess not surprised to see Crowe in Denver
South Sydney forward Sam Burgess believes Russell Crowe's decision to fly to Denver for Sunday's historic Test between England and New Zealand at Mile High Stadium was a sign of support for rugby league from the Rabbitohs co-owner.
Crowe was on the sideline at kick-off, tweeted about the match and later posed for a photo with the England players after their 36-18 win.
While South Sydney CEO Blake Solly represented NRL clubs in their opposition to the mid-season Test in the United States, Crowe has been a long-time proponent of expanding the game into North America and took the Rabbitohs to Florida in 2008 to play Leeds.
"Russell has been great, he voices his opinion - and of course he is going to do that, he is the owner of the club - but he came down in the sheds after, he met all of our team-mates and he got a picture with everyone," Burgess said.
"It was fantastic for the game and he was just happy that we were all healthy. He supports what we are doing and I think once he saw where we were coming from as England players he got behind us.
"He has flown in just for the game so that is a good sign of the support he has got for us. It's not just me and Tom, it is anyone else in the team. He is hugely supportive and that is fantastic."
Burgess said Souths coach Anthony Seibold also supported him and brother Tom playing in the Test and he hoped England and New Zealand would be able to honour their three-year deal to play in Denver.
"Souths have been great and Anthony Siebold has been great," Burgess said.
"He has never said once that he was going to stop anything and I can understand both sides of the fence but I think we have got more time to get organised next year.
"We are really proud of what we can produce on the field and I thought today both teams played with passion and effort and that's Test football. I thought the game was good, it was physical and it was pretty entertaining so hopefully we can build it and grow it over the next few years."
St George Illawarra five-eighth Gareth Widdop, who had a hand in two of England's six tries and kicked six goals, including a 50-metre penalty goal, said the players were keen to return to Denver next year after drawing a crowd of 19,320 for the Test.
"It was an unbelievable opportunity to get to play at such a fantastic stadium and it was great for international rugby league," Widdop said.
"I thought it was a fair turnout, I thought that they got behind it and it was a great atmosphere out there.
"We had to fight to get this over the line and it would be silly to just forget about it and put it on the back-burner again. Hopefully it goes ahead next year."
Widdop and Dragons teammate James Graham travelled from the stadium to Denver airport, along with the Burgess brothers and Canberra second rower Elliott Whitehead, so they could return to Sydney on Monday to prepare for next weekend's round of games.
Burgess played the full 80 minutes but all said they expected to play for their clubs, with the only injury to come out of the game being a broken hand by New Zealand and Bulldogs second rower Raymond Faitala-Mariner.
“Honestly the first 15 or 20 minutes was as tough as it has ever been for me out there on the field so to get through 80 minutes I am pretty happy with that," Burgess said.
"I was cursing [England coach] Wayne [Bennett] in the second half for not giving me a breather but it was good challenge to get through 80 minutes."