SAM Burgess returns to England action today insisting he does not need to explain his style of play to anyone.
The hard-hitting forward faces Fiji at Hull after being suspended for his country’s 42-0 success over Ireland following a high tackle on Australia’s Sam Thaiday.
That prompted one Australian columnist to label the South Sydney prop a ‘thug’ and demand he be banned for the entire World Cup given he had already incurred three NRL suspensions this year.
But the ex-Bradford Bulls player, who has earned superstar status Down Under, said: “I don’t need to justify myself to the Australian press. There are always going to be things written and people will have an opinion but I don’t need to justify what I think of myself to them.
“I’ll just get on with it. I’ve heard it all before. They wrote that me and James Graham were fighting, so I guess you must take what’s written with a pinch of salt.
“It’s funny what they come up with. I’m not bothered what they write. They write good things, they write bad things, but you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth.”
The 24-year-old Yorkshireman continued: “It doesn’t really affect me and it’s part of the game over there.
“Rugby league is big there and is written about a lot with a lot of newspaper coverage, so it’s not a big deal.
“The (Sydney) Telegraph have got their own interpretation and I’m not going to sit here and defend myself.
“I don’t think I need to do that just yet. I play the game 100 per cent and occasionally things aren’t going to go as I planned.
“I’ve got no regrets and I’m certainly not going to sit here and explain myself to the Australian press.
“The one-game ban was fair enough because it was an ugly tackle and probably warranted.”
However, Burgess is back in the ranks this afternoon as England look for the win that will secure second spot in Group A and a quarter-final against either France or Samoa.
Although most of the British public will not be too familiar with the Fijians on show at KC Stadium, he knows one particularly well – the legendary ex-Kangaroo prop Petro Civoniceva, a hero of the NRL and a veteran Queensland State of Origin campaigner.
The 37-year-old retired from full-time rugby last season but vowed to represent the country of his birth in this tournament.
“I spoke to Petro down in London last week and he kind of said to himself that he can’t give it up,” said Burgess.
“As a player, the game gives you so much so it’s hard to walk away from it. It’s great to see Petro in the game and what he’s doing now for Fiji is fantastic.
“I don’t think I’ll be playing when I’m 37.
“When I’m that age the game will have changed a hell of a lot by then. I’d like to be playing golf four times a week and chilling out at that age.
“I know (ex-Bradford team-mate) Steve Menzies did it but he’s is a different kettle of fish.
“When I’m 37 it will be in 13 years’ time and when you look back 13 years to now the game will have changed a lot again.
“Fair credit to Petro, he’s achieved everything in the sport and it’ll be an honour to play against him this weekend.”
The London trip he mentions, of course, is the Royal appointment with Prince Charles at Clarence House when all 14 nations were hosted and Dewsbury-born Burgess represented England.
“It was a great experience,” he recollected. “We had a good general chit-chat actually and he seemed to know a bit about myself and my family.
“He knew my mum was over in Australia and he knew we lived over there… obviously he had been briefed.
“But he’s a really nice guy and very down to earth. For me as a young lad, it was a great experience to meet Prince Charles and quite overwhelming actually.
“I don’t get carried away but the changing of the guards was on when I was there. It was quite theatrical so it’s something I’ll remember.
“I’m looking forward to getting back out there playing though against a Fiji side who have been a surprise package.
“They are very physical and look exciting to play against which is what international rugby is all about.”