Burgess to grin and bear pain as Roosters loom
Sam Burgess' body is a house of pain at the moment with nearly every muscle, joint, and tendon, telling him he needs a rest.
But the finals have arrived for the Rabbitohs and their likely opponent in week one is their arch rival the Roosters as the neighbouring clubs have each had stellar seasons to sit in the top-four.
If there is one thing that 31-year-old Burgess will use to get himself out of bed each day, it is the thought of facing the Roosters in their first Telstra Premiership Finals series.
"Yes." And that's all Burgess will say. No elaboration is necessary because a broad grin engulfs the face of the boy from Bradford, signifying how much these two clubs dislike each other.
But first, Burgess has a week of intense physio and therapy to pump some energy and healing back into the frame that made 18 runs for 189 metres, 68 post-contact metres and 24 tackles in just 55 minutes of an overwhelmingly good 51-10 victory over the Wests Tigers on Thursday.
Besides that extraordinary eight-try display, something else out of the box happened: Burgess actually took the medical advice of his team staff and left ANZ Stadium for a rest. He normally prides himself on being an 80-minute player.
"It gives you a strong mentality. You can prove yourself wrong; prove your body wrong," Burgess said.
"Sometimes you get more out of pushing through it, than taking the rest. That's my view.
"It does help me when I'm tired in games or whatever, it does help me lean back on what I've put myself through. I know I can get through things. I've trained my mind to do that.
"It's all part of growing as a player. It helps me during tough times on the field."
Burgess' immediate concern is a twinge in his hamstring. But he's not the only player hurting.
As he spoke to reporters in the Rabbitohs sheds on Thursday, fellow backrower Cameron Murray was not far away with a large bag of ice strapped to his shoulder, while Angus Crichton had both shoulders and a knee all being iced.
Burgess hasn't felt this fatigued since late in the 2014 season. And we all know how that ended - the club's 21st premiership with a win over the Bulldogs.
"Back in 2014 I was carrying a lot of injuries in the back end of that year," Burgess said. "I remember having a conversation with [then head coach] Michael Maguire as I really wanted to miss a game as I was in a lot of pain.
"I ended up playing a game – played all 80 minutes – and found I could do a bit more than I thought I could do.
"I got put in a situation in the grand final [cheekbone broken in the first minute] and I was prepared for that. So it does help to build a bit of strength in the mind.
"But you have to be smart with it and I thought tonight [Tigers win] we were smart. I could have stayed out there ... I could have got through the back end of the game. But it was a good decision with the doctors and the medical staff."
Current coach Anthony Seibold also rested two other vital cogs in his premiership-tilt wheel: skipper Greg Inglis came off with 11 minutes remaining, and hooker Damien Cook with six.
So now the club games are done. The Rabbitohs are in the hunt for a 22nd premiership.
"The competition is as tight as I've ever seen ... for us what gives us [confidence] is that it's really down to us now – the way we prepare and approach each game," Burgess said of Souths' chances.
"It's in our hands ... it is an exciting thing with the spirit of the fans. Every team at the top has a genuine chance and we're in that same boat.
"We've got to prepare and look after our bodies and get ready for a big game next week."
Grinning, Burgess added: "And I'd imagine it's probably against the Roosters."