Burgess Quartet Make Debut

In Round 25, 2013 the Burgess brothers made history - and after a short-lived scare from the Wests Tigers, they helped to orchestrate a South Sydney Rabbitohs comeback for the ages.

The Burgess brothers – Sam, Luke, George and Tom – have all been integral to the Rabbitohs for nearly a decade, helping the Club claim their 21st premiership with their barging runs and whole-hearted style of play.

But arguably their biggest moment came in Round 25 of the 2013 season, when all four took the field at the same time in the Red and Green, becoming the first quartet of brothers to play a match for the same Club since the Norman brothers – Ray, Roy, Rex and Bernard played for Annandale in 1910.

But, rather than get the story from the brothers themselves, the best course of action was to ask the person who raised them as boys to the men they are today– their mother Julie Burgess.

With plenty of hype around the clash, Julie recalled her thoughts and feelings beforehand, citing the occasion was quite an extraordinary one for the family.

"Someone had told us about the previous set of brothers which was over 100 years previous, so I was aware of it before the game," said Julie.

"I was pretty excited to think that all my kids had been selected on the same day in the same team, none were injured and all were available for the seventeen. It was a pretty big deal at the time.

"We had a big family dinner the night before, which is normal anyway when we get together for our big spaghetti bolognese night. We did do a lot of talking around that, the fact that as a mum when you're bringing your children up and taking them to a lot of games, you're going to different grounds all through the weekend.

With four young boys in three different age groups, travel was something that the Burgess clan did on a weekly basis. Julie was sure to mention that it was, in fact, the first time the four brothers had played at the same venue at the same time and in the same match.

"There were times that I could go to watch the twins play one place, then Luke play in another, and then Sam somewhere else," she said.

"To actually be able to, for the first time ever, go to the one ground to watch them all play at some point was great! It was their first game together in their entire lives through a lifetime of taking them to train at different places.

"That was probably the biggest thing that hit me, I thought 'Wow, just the one game to go to!'. Even when they were in Sydney at some point some of them would be playing for the Bears at North Sydney Oval.

"To some, it might not seem like a big thing, but to me it was."

Despite the Rabbitohs flying high at the time, and the Tigers lingering towards the bottom of the ladder, the match took a dramatic twist early on as Sam, the middle child, was sin-binned for a professional foul.

With an extra man on the field, the Tigers took precedence and shot out to an 18-nil lead against a shell-shocked Souths side. The Allianz Stadium crowd was stunned, and it seemed like a night of occasion was about to come crashing down. 

Julie, on the other hand, had full confidence that the Red and Green would get the job done. And they did, with Sam bagging a crucial try, and Luke scoring his first ever NRL try to seal the deal.

In the final set of the game, affectionately known as 'The Burgess Set', all four brothers managed to get their hands on the ball, one after the other, capping off a memorable 32-18 win.

"I remember I had no doubt that they could come back," Julie said.

"There was a little bit of a wobble when Sam got sin-binned, but there was so much excitement when Luke scored, and for him to get his first NRL try was one of the best things for me.

"Funnily enough, he was playing in the position Sam would have been, and apparently, he ran that same line that Sam should have run to score that try, so that was good!"

Filled with plenty of emotion and brimming with pride, Julie found herself in the spotlight as she made her way down the field to congratulate her sons.

"Straight after the game, 'Freddy' Fittler asked me to go onto the field and I was a bit embarrassed," she said.

"I saw them waving me over, so it was nice to get on the field after the boys had done that. I was probably most excited for Luke for his first try."

Currently teaching at The Scots College, Julie is constantly reminded about the occasion, despite being nearly five years ago, by her current students.

Proud of the accomplishments of her sons, the head of languages has also told their story to help inspire her current students.

"I get reminded of it a lot at Scots because I think it featured in the Guinness Book of Records," she said.

"So a lot of my students will say 'Miss, did you know you're in the Guinness Book of Records?!' and I just pretend that I don't know what they're talking about!

"I actually do a talk to the boys who do a thing called 'The Long Journey Home' where they go from Glengarry and they basically walk, sail and hike all the way from Kangaroo Valley and I do a talk when they get back.

"Having that belief that they could achieve a dream of theirs from being young boys, so I kind of give them a little 'dream, believe, achieve' speech to them and how to get there."

With Sam, George and Tom still at the Club, it doesn't matter what end of the ladder the Rabbitohs sit, as Julie's motherly nature means she still has her boys' safety as the number one priority.

"Every single game I get that anxiety. I'm still not quite sure if it's excitement or fear," she said.

Of course, with four growing boys, all forwards nonetheless, there was a matter of question as to footing the food bill. Julie was adamant, though, that her sons were easy to handle when it came to matters of the dinner table.

"They weren't fussy eaters so it was okay. They'd just get what was served on the day and lots of it, we'd use huge cooking pans!" she laughed.

 

 

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Match report supplied by Michael Curin.

 

 The Rabbitohs almost had their limelight stolen from them by the Wests Tigers team who were also not lacking for motivation on a night of history and record-breaking achievements. The win placed Souths on top of the NRL ladder.

For the Tigers Benji Marshall played his 200th game, Lote Tuqiri his 150th and Robbie Farah's club record 202nd top grade appearance. It was no ordinary night for the Rabbitohs either as for the first time in 103 years four brothers (Souths' Luke, Sam, George and Tom Burgess) all played in the same first grade side, and, equalled the record set by Annandale in 1910 when Bernard, Roy, Ray and Rex Norman all played together in Rounds 9-13.

The early breaks went with Wests Tigers as they took advantage of Sam Burgess' sin-binning in the fourth minute to go to an 18-0 lead. But when he returned Souths played their way into the contest, and it was Burgess himself who enabled them to draw level with a try soon after half-time. Proud mother Julie watched on and then joined her son's on-field at full-time.

The Rabbitohs were well off their game in the first half, but they were still in it with a try just before the break. Tigers winger Lote Tuqiri's air-swing gave his opposite Dylan Farrell the try from Reynolds' kick.
Seven minutes into the second half, the Rabbitohs were level. And it was the man who had been off the field at the same stage of the first half, Sam Burgess, who produced the try. The Tigers did well to hold the Rabbitohs out for much of the second half. Their toil was highlighted by Tedesco's wonderful tackle on a flying Nathan Merritt.

But four minutes later, a penalty against Marshall after the officials ruled a strip on five-eighth John Sutton gave the Rabbitohs their chance to lead. Reynolds made no mistake. Four minutes later, Luke's bust handed Merritt what he thought he had earlier, and Luke Burgess finished the contest off in the dying minutes.

The Tigers will finish their campaign next week, and it was clear as their five-eighth Benji Marshall broke down during the presentation, after his final home match for Tigers (although he did come back in 2018). "It's been a disappointing year and a tough year for everybody involved with the club, but I asked the boys to play with some pride, and I can't fault their effort."

 

South Sydney 32 (A.Reynolds, D.Farrell, S.Burgess, N.Merritt, L.Burgess tries; Reynolds 6 goals)

defeated

Wests Tigers 18 (T.Simona, J.Tedesco, B.Murdoch‐Masila tries; B.Marshall 3 goals)

 

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