TOM BURGESS last night insisted his elder brother can still push on and fulfil his rugby union ambition of playing in this year’s World Cup.
League legend Sam Burgess switched codes last autumn after inspiring South Sydney to the NRL Grand Final, joining Bath in a major deal with one eye on featuring for England when the tournament starts in September.
The Yorkshireman’s progress has been mixed; some promising displays for his club at inside centre dimmed somewhat by a poor performance when being selected for a second-string England Saxons side against Irish Wolfhounds last month.
Younger brothers – twins Tom and George – are currently home from Australia, too, with South Sydney preparing to face Super League champions St Helens in Sunday’s World Club Challenge at Langtree Park.
The NRL victors are staying in Leeds, which is good news for the Dewsbury-born siblings, and they took part in an opening training session against Wigan Warriors in Orrell yesterday.
Tom Burgess, the ex-Bradford Bulls prop, was asked about Sam’s progress in the 15-man code, and he said: “He’s going good.
“I speak to him quite a bit and he’s just enjoying the challenge.
“Obviously, he’s not going to get there straight away but he’s enjoying learning the game and taking his chances when he gets them.
“Is the World Cup possible? Yes, of course it is.
“That’s what he’s got his eyes set on.
“His goal is to play for England and it would be stupid if he didn’t go for it.”
The 22-year-old admits he has been mocking Sam – rated the top international league player of 2014 and renowned for his insatiable work-rate – for his relative poor statistics in union.
“We have a bit but it’s a totally different game isn’t it?,” he said. “There’s probably not as many tackles or carries as in league but there’s probably a lot more other things in union that we don’t realise he does.”
England prop Burgess, meanwhile, is relishing getting back to playing on familiar turf and is loving being “home.”
“I played at Saints with Bradford,” he said, having moved to Sydney at the end of 2012 after 42 Super League games with the West Yorkshire club.
“They are a very good side and have been up there for the last decade, even longer.
“We know it will be tough come Sunday but we’re looking forward to it.
“For me, this trip is not just great for us as a squad, spending time together with our new boys, but obviously making memories as well.
“That’s what it’s all about. And to get the World Club Challenge.”
Burgess admits St Helens hooker and England colleague James Roby is someone the tourists will have to monitor keenly as they seek to win their first-ever world club title.
“Robes is like an English version of Cameron Smith,” he said, referring to the influential Australia captain.
“He’s definitely someone we have our eye on and I know him from the England camp.
“He’s a very good player. We might have missed him with England at the end of the year (Roby sat out the Four Nations due to surgery), but he has a lot of strings to his bow in his game and is a big threat.”
Meanwhile, Wigan captain Sean O’Loughlin has been ruled out for six weeks due to knee surgery so misses Saturday’s World Club Series game against Brisbane Broncos.