Rabbitohs forward George Burgess tells you, our Members, about his move to Australia and the start to his NRL career.
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I suppose it all started when I came on holiday here in September 2010. Sam was over here playing at the time, he had just started his first year and I was only 18 years old, on a lad’s holiday really and he introduced me to Shane Richardson and Russell Crowe and we talked about coming to the Club. Both me and Tom got introduced at the time and I was so keen. I was ready to come at the drop of a hat and just come over on whatever contract. I just wanted the chance really to play over here and train with the team. So I ended up coming straight away and signed a 12-month contract and Tom decided to stay in England and play Super League for a bit. I actually went back to England and I played for the England Academy against the Australian Schoolboys and had a couple of good games against them. Originally my contract was a part-time contract with the 20s but they changed it to a full-time contract after that and I was pretty stoked to get the chance to train full-time and I think it really made a difference to me in my first year and then I ended up getting a good contract after that and they signed me up for longer.
So I suppose that was how it started.
I arrived New Year’s Eve 2010. I remember (former Super League player) Chris Feather who was living with Sam at the time, picked me up from the Airport and drove into Kings Cross where we were living. It was a pretty surreal feeling, seeing the Coca Cola sign and all that stuff. I was just so tired flying in on New Year’s Eve, I don’t think I made it the 12 o’clock fireworks but it was a good way to be introduced into Sydney. From there I just loved it and never wanted to go back really, it was pretty cool.
It was weird at the start but I was lucky I had Sam here. I lived with Sam in the first bit and he kind of guided me through that first year which was great and then (older brother) Luke actually came over not long after me. He came over midseason in 2011 and that was great. We moved in together and it was pretty cool. We lived together for about 18 months until Tom came over. I was never really on my own to be honest and I was always around my brothers and people who were giving me good advice.
I remember the conversation with Tom back in 2012 when I was trying to convince him that it was the right move for him to come over and I knew that in that 2013 year when we were all at the one Club that we had the opportunity to play together which we always wanted to do. Then my mum moved over as well which kind of made it like a big family affair at the Club for us. We were all invested in South Sydney as a family and it made it really special for those couple of years that we were together.
I wanted to come here as I saw it as the premier competition at the time and it still is. I thought if I could just get over here and get myself in the system of training with an NRL Club I could improve myself as a player. I felt like I did improve a lot in the systems and the coaching over here, I think it improved my game a lot. My defence went to a different level and I felt like it just improved as well.
That first year with John Lang, I just played reserve grade all year with the North Sydney Bears and Wayne Lambkin was a big help to me. I played a couple of 20s games when we had bye’s with the Bears and I just worked hard. I suppose 2012 was really when things started happening for me when Madge came. I had a really big preseason and made my debut that year. I got that stomach problem towards the backend of the year that put me out but it gave me that really big drive in the 2013 preseason to train harder than I ever had done before. That was probably my breakout year and I played every game and got the Rookie of the Year. We should have got to the Grand Final but we got one game off and I suppose that’s what built it up for that 2014 year. It was like a build up from the previous two years and we went all the way that year and it was pretty memorable to go the whole year and win that Grand Final.
I suppose since then we have been trying to replicate it but it’s one of those things that takes time as teams grow and teams change and you have to build it over a number of years and that’s how hard it is to do it.
Obviously I’ve had a bit of a shift in my life over here. I met Joanna in 2014 and we started dating and from there it’s gone from strength to strength really. We got married last December and now little Boston has come along so life is pretty different now but I’m loving it. Being a Dad and being a husband is a great thing for me, I always wanted to have a young family and start a family young.
I came here as an 18 year old and I feel like I’ve just grown up with Souths now as an adult. I’ve gone through my adult years now with Souths and I feel a special bond because of it. Russell has always been there to guide me as well as a bit of a father figure and he was the one that convinced me that it was the right thing to do. We went for a walk in the Rocks and spoke about the Club and he really sold it to me. It was a big move for me but it was something I was really sure about and something that I don’t regret doing.