Burgess brothers set to take Sydney by storm
Siblings from Dewsbury could become first family foursome to play together since 1910
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
Tuesday 27 August 2013
This will be a historic weekend for British rugby league in Australia – especially if your name happens to be Burgess. The four brothers from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire have all been named together for the first time in South Sydney's 19-man squad to play West Tigers in the National Rugby League, recognised as the code's strongest competition.
If they all take the field, they will be the first quartet of siblings to do so since the Norman brothers for the now-defunct Annandale in 1910.
Sam Burgess, whose return from a two-match suspension has set up the possibility of a bevy of Burgesses on Friday night, was the first of the brothers to move to Sydney. He is now in his third season with Souths and has been joined by his elder brother, Luke, and twin younger brothers, Tom and George.
England international Sam is rated as one of the top forwards in the NRL, while George and Tom have made astonishing progress this year.
Luke, a graduate of the Leeds Academy – the other three were all at Bradford – had been easing his way back from injury through Souths' feeder club, the North Sydney Bears, when he was called up by Souths last weekend. "It's something we've spoken about quite a bit," said Sam of the likely gathering of the clans at the Allianz Stadium.
"I know people are curious and if we do [play together] it will be something we have had as a goal. But it's a matter of club culture. We all bond as brothers."
Souths' former Wigan coach, Michael Maguire, admitted it will be a special occasion. "To have the four Burgess boys together means that it will be a massive day for the club," he said. "It's exciting to be a part of it."
The brothers' widowed mother lives in Sydney with them and will be part of an extended family party on Friday night, urging her sons on.
Their assembling in Souths' high-flying first-grade team will also inevitably stir the imagination towards the four of them playing together for England, possibly as early as this autumn's World Cup.
New Zealand's manager, Tony Iro, is already on record as expecting that to happen. "If the four of them play together, England will have the biggest pack in the tournament," he said. "The impact they have made this year has been fantastic."
The England coach, Steve McNamara, has long predicted that the four brothers would play alongside each other. He was involved in the development of the three youngest Burgesses at the Bulls and has kept in touch with all four, including visiting them in Sydney earlier this summer.
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