FOR Greg Burke, there is double reason to impress when a familiar Wigan Warriors side arrive at Hull KR tomorrow.
The loose-forward is on a season-long loan at the East Yorkshire club from the famous Cherry and Whites and is increasingly keen to use any opportunity to remind Shaun Wane of his talent.
Burke, 22, is in the awkward position of having England captain and Wigan legend Sean O’Loughlin standing in his way.
It means chances to show his ability are few and far between, hence his switch to the Robins where he has started both their Super League games.
Ahead of tomorrow’s fixture with his parent club, Burke told The Yorkshire Post: “I am looking forward to it, to be honest.
“It’s good they are letting me play. Wigan could have exercised their right if they’d wanted to stop me but they’re happy.
“I’m more than happy to face them, too, as obviously they’ll be watching and there’s no better way to prove my worth to the coach that I am capable of playing at that level.”
He played in Wigan’s opening- day win against Wakefield Trinity 12 months ago but was then sent to Bradford Bulls on loan where he suffered a shoulder injury in his first game at Hull FC.
This kept him out of action for nine weeks and, upon his return, he yo-yoed between Wigan’s first-team squad – five appearances –and playing on dual-registration with Workington in the Championship where he spent 11 games.
The opportunity to work with Hull KR head coach Chris Chester – a former Wigan loose-forward himself – was welcomed.
“The reason I came here was to pretty much get a whole season playing Super League under my belt,” admitted Burke, an aggressive ball-playing 13 who can also operate at prop.
“It is a good experience playing in the lower divisions but it got to the point where, well, I just wasn’t really learning much.
“There is only so much you can learn there and I needed to be playing regularly at a higher level.
“The injury didn’t help and that probably ruined the season for me so I’m hoping I don’t get any of those problems this time.
“But another goal is just to help this team try and get into the top eight as well as getting a good run in the cup. The lads are a good set and I want to reward the club for taking a chance on me.”
Ironically, Burke will not actually face O’Loughlin tomorrow as the 32-year-old fellow Wiganer is sidelined for six weeks following knee surgery.
“It is a shame I’m not going to play Lockers,” he admitted.
“It would be good to see what it is about him – obviously he’s a class player – and to test myself.
“It’s not to be but I’m sure whoever comes in will be a test, too.
“It’ll probably be John Bateman who I obviously know well, having played against him a lot since being a kid but he is a good mate now.”
Rovers, of course, are still striving for their first win of the season, having lost at home to Leeds Rhinos and again at Wakefield before having last weekend off due to the World Club Series where Wigan fell 14-12 against Brisbane Broncos.
“We’re confident we can do something on Sunday,” added Burke, who signed after Papua New Guinea star Neville Costigan failed to return from Australia for the second year of his KR deal.
“We came up short v Leeds while at Wakefield it was our own errors that cost us and we used up too much energy in defence.
“The Aussies showed last week how to strangle teams out of games and that’s how we need to win matches; it’s not being fancy with the ball, it’s about completing and we’ve worked on that.”
He went to watch the Brisbane game with, as he jokingly puts it, fellow Wigan “exile” Jack Hughes, who is on loan at Huddersfield.
But on a more serious note, Burke knows he has to persuade demanding Wigan head coach Wane that he can be the long-term successor to O’Loughlin.
“I have to prove I’m good enough,” he said, with 2016 being the final year of his contract.
“I was in and out of the side last year and probably didn’t do myself justice. But he said the thing I needed was a full season playing against men in Super League each week. I’m getting that so far with Rovers and need to make sure that continues.”