Rabbitohs leave lasting impression on Joe Burgess
Wigan winger Joe Burgess hopes to use the upcoming match against South Sydney Rabbitohs to remind the club of his talents as he eyes an eventual return to the NRL.
Burgess, who joined Sydney Roosters amid much fanfare in 2016 after scoring 52 tries in 55 games for Wigan and forcing his way into the England team, played four NRL matches before he was released to the South Sydney Rabbitohs for the remainder of the season.
At the same time, Burgess agreed to return to Wigan until 2019 but after his stint with the Rabbitohs the 23-year-old is keen for another chance with the club he will line up against in the February 17 double-header at ANZ Stadium, in which St George Illawarra Dragons will also play Hull FC.
"I hope to go back there one day and have a proper crack," Burgess told NRL.com as he prepared for this weekend's opening Super League round, in which Wigan play Salford before flying to Australia for their historic clash with Hull FC at WIN Stadium on February 10.
"I'd love to have another crack at Souths because I really enjoyed the club and everyone was pretty good to me. I just didn't find my feet at the Roosters but when I went to Souths I found a bit of form.
"I was playing every week and I was starting to find some consistency so by the end of it I was really enjoying my time. It was a lot shorter than I expected and wanted it to be but I am excited to go back and play a few more games there."
Burgess had never lived away from home before he moved to Sydney after England's three-Test series with New Zealand at the end of the 2015 season and he is extremely close to his family.
After sharing a house with Connor Watson, he then lived on his own.
However, Burgess said his decision to return to Wigan was made purely for football reasons as he was mainly playing NSW Cup with the Roosters.
"Especially because I am so close to my family it was a big move, but I am not a shy person so I didn't struggle with that," he said.
"That wasn't the reason I went home, I wasn't homesick. As much as I love my family I just missed playing rugby again. It is a shame I had to come home but I was going back to a good club and to my family so it turned out alright."
Despite playing just nine NRL matches for the Rabbitohs, Burgess has maintained contact with the club through former teammates Angus Crichton and the Burgess brothers, Sam, George and Tom, who he is often mistaken for a sibling – even in England.
He also helped former Rabbitohs under 20s prop Gabe Hamlin settle in at Wigan by putting him up until he found his own place to live.
"He lived with me for a few months so I showed him a few good spots and he has been enjoying it, although I don't think he has enjoyed the past few weeks because it has been real cold," Burgess said. "He still carries on wearing shorts like he is living in Australia.
"He played in our match against Leigh and ripped in so he really impressed the coach."
While Burgess is focused on Friday night's match against Salford and knows the importance of beating Hull FC in the first Super League premiership game played outside of Europe, he is looking forward to catching up with former Rabbitohs teammates at ANZ Stadium on February 17.
"I will probably try to give some of the boys pointers about who to run at and who not to run at," he said. "I can't wait for it just to see familiar faces again. I loved my time in Australia and I have missed it."