South Sydney’s Burgess brothers are refusing to consider that Friday night’s sudden-death final at ANZ Stadium could be the last time they play together.
With Sam back from a one-match ban and twins George (suspension) and Tom (injury) returning in Friday night’s crushing 30-6 defeat by Sydney Roosters at the SCG, all three will be available for the first time since the June 7 clash with Newcastle.
However, the Rabbitohs’ next loss will bring an end to the six seasons they have spent together at Redfern after George, who joined the club in 2012, signed a three-year deal to return home to England and play for Wigan.
After playing 27 minutes during two stints in his first match back from a nine-game suspension, George said the brothers were determined that their time together wouldn’t finish just yet.
“For us it’s not the last time,” George said. “We want to keep moving forward and we are not thinking that this week is going to be the last.
“It is just another week for me and I have got to focus on my job. It was good getting back out there but I feel like I have got a lot of improvement in me.”
To keep their premiership hopes alive, Souths will need to improve on their performance against the Roosters but the return of Sam will be a massive boost for the team.
Star centre Dane Gagai is also expected to play next week after missing the qualifying final with a hamstring injury.
“Sam has been good, he is our captain and he leads us on and off the field so even though he wasn’t playing [against the Roosters] he has been doing everything with the team and he will be raring to go next week,” George said.
“We know what we have done well all year and we have got to get back to doing that.”
Souths coach Wayne Bennett said George had been better in his second stint late in the game than his first, and the 27-year-old prop believes he will improve again with a match under his belt after two months on the sideline.
“I have just been trying to create a match situation in training as the best I can,” he said. “I was happy about starting and I have just got to keep working on my match fitness and doing the right things during the week.”
Despite receiving such a long ban, Burgess insisted he had never thought his NRL career may be over and had kept working hard to prepare for his return in the finals.
“I didn’t think about that to be honest,” he said. “You get thrown curve balls in your career and you have just got to work through them. I suppose it just goes with experience and goes with your character.”
Meanwhile, Burgess said he believed players should be fined rather than miss a game for minor infringements in the finals.
Sam was suspended for hair pulling, while Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves must beat a tripping charge at the judiciary to be able to play in the grand final qualifier.
“I think that there is a lot of things that could be a fine,” Burgess said.
“We have seen more minor offences getting a fine so maybe they need to look at some other things that could warrant a fine instead of a game, especially big games like finals. It’s not for me to say but there may be a bit of work that could be done there.”