He was once a South Sydney fan favourite but George Burgess is expecting a different type of reception when he travels to Mudgee on Saturday to take on his former club in the annual Charity Shield.
Burgess made a successful return to the field for the Dragons on Sunday following career-saving hip surgery last year with a 20-minute spell his first run for an NRL side since leaving the Rabbitohs in 2019.
The premiership-winning prop said he felt no pain with his hip during his first stint in the Red V and wanted to see his minutes increase against the Rabbitohs.
"I wasn't too nervous just because of the work I've put in, I was pretty confident and it felt good to get out there with the boys and a new team and my first game in a long time," Burgess said.
"I felt strong and fit and it pulled up sweet so really happy with it. That was the most pleasing thing. I had full contact off the kick-off and I didn't feel any pain in my hip.
"It was just good to get that on the board and I think I'll be a lot better next week.
"I'm looking forward to the week now and getting to Mudgee against my old team. It will be good, just another game and another step in the preparation for our season."
Match Highlights: Eels v Dragons
Burgess joked he wouldn't be avoiding twin brother Tom on Saturday, rather he'd go "looking for him" in a clash that will see the pair line up against each other for the first time.
"I'm still good friends with Liam Knight and obviously Tom, a lot of the boys," Burgess said.
"They've been super supportive [of my return] and the club as well, my old physio Eddie Farah… everyone's been supportive.
"It's been nice and will be nice to see a few familiar faces next week."
Burgess is set to play a key role for the Dragons in 2022, particularly with experienced forward Josh McGuire sidelined for the opening five rounds of the season through suspension.
Fuimaono facing long ban for tackle on Dunster
Dragons back-rower Tyrell Fuimaono is also facing a 5-7 week ban for a dangerous contact tackle following the trial win.
"I'll be pushing to make the team every week, you need that [competition] in an NRL squad if you want to be competitive through the middle," Burgess said.
"There will be a lot of players that will miss out. Hook (Anthony Griffin) has been awesome, just a straight-talking coach and you know where you stand with him.
"He's been awesome for me and keeps pushing me along the way and throughout the journey of getting my hip right. I've had a very enjoyable pre-season."
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