When you see George Burgess walk around Redfern, you can tell there’s something different about him.
You can see a new look of hunger in the eyes, when speaking to him you can sense there’s a fire in the belly and if you listen to the coaching staff here at Souths, the big Englishman has returned with an indomitable desire to improve in 2018.
“From a running point of view George Burgess is training exceptionally well and when the big guy is in full flight in good running conditions it’s very exciting to watch,” said Head of High Performance Paul Devlin.
In recent times, Burgess and his Souths teammates have had some leaner seasons and Burgess hasn’t quite been able to recapture his barnstorming form of 2014.
The tougher seasons led to George being left out of the England squad for this year’s Rugby League World Cup, however, the dropping hasn’t deterred the prop who has returned to Redfern with a determined attitude, leading from the front since day one of pre-season and even picking up trainer of the week.
The 2018 pre-season is the first time in five years that George has been able to capitalise on a full pre-season and he’s relishing the extra preparation heading into the new season.
“It’s been great start to pre-season, there has been a great feeling around training, we’re ripping in on and off field, and in the gym everyone has been putting in their best efforts,” said Burgess
“It’s good to be back at this time of year it’s my first full pre-season in about five years, so I’m just excited about where I can go with my body,” said Burgess.
“It was a bit of a surprise [winning top trainer] but everyone is ripping in and training hard, it’s a close contest when it comes to awarding the trainer of the week.”
His hard work on the training ground is also being heard from outside of Redfern Oval, with twin Thomas Burgess, proud of his brother’s efforts.
“I’ve been talking to George and heard he’s been putting in the hard yards and was rewarded with trainer of the week. So it’s great to hear that he’s been going really well.”
In 2013, George was awarded the Dally M Rookie of the Year, which was followed by a call up to the England national team. A year on, the six foot five, 120kg frame was being branded by many pundits as the best forward in the game, as he helped Souths towards their first Premiership in over 43 years whilst scoring a memorable Grand Final try in the process.
At the age of just 25 George is still a young player but with five years of first grade experience and 110 games to his name, the 120kg prop is one of the more senior forwards in the team.
With a number of young players coming through the ranks, Burgess is now flourishing with the extra responsibility and new mentoring role.
“I was looking around there are a lot of younger guys here now so I suppose I am getting up there as one of the older ones which is a bit different.”
“We’ve got a young, very enthusiastic squad this year it’s exciting we’ve got a lot of players born in 1999 which makes me feel a little old but everyone is enthusiastic.”
With a new lease on life at Redfern under Head Coach Anthony Seibold, Burgess is happy with the new systems that have been put in place to maximise the teams and individuals performance.
Burgess is now looking forward to the holiday break where he can enjoy some one on one time with his family but the front rower won’t let the extra Christmas food on offer dissuade him from his hard work, keeping a keen eye on the road to round one including the pre-season camp at the Australian Institute of Sport.
“It’s going to be great, it’s something more clubs should do I think, it’s where the Olympic athletes go to prepare to win a gold medal so it’s a great place to go as an athlete and we’re looking forward to going there and putting in some strong efforts in at training.”