Sam Burgess says NRL restart is rugby league’s chance – and is up for England role

SAM Burgess believes rugby league has its chance to break through and attract new fans crying out for sporting action with the NRL’s restart.

It can also show other sports who are debating how to get back how to do it.

Sam Burgess acknowledges the crowd as England reach World Cup final
Sam Burgess believes he NRL’s restart could be rugby league’s chance to make a mark on the sporting landscape

But he does not want England’s national team to get left behind, especially a year from a home World Cup they want to win.

With many leagues in many sports shut down, the 13-a-side code down under gets going again on Thursday, albeit behind closed doors.

Up to eight English players could be back in action after two months away in the fiercest rugby league competition on the planet.

Fans over here will get their fill with Sky Sports showing all eight matches.

And dual-code superstar Burgess believes now is the chance for the sport that made him to really make a mark on the sporting landscape.

Burgess will be hoping he can claim the bragging rights over his employer today
Burgess believes just seeing sport on screen could be huge for the game
Getty Images – Getty

“It gives plenty of people in the world a bit of live sport to watch,” said Burgess from Sydney. “And with it being rugby league, it’s just a great opportunity.

“Also, what it means here in Australia is a lot of staff who were laid off are now back in work.

“Players are excited about it, staff are excited about it and the feeling among the general public is, ‘I can’t wait for a game of rugby in four days’ time.’

“It’s like life is getting back to normal a little.

“And hopefully, the NRL can give a footprint to Super League. What works? What doesn’t work? What could we do better? What didn’t we need to do?

Super League has been suspended since mid-March
Rex Features

“Super League and other leagues in other codes could plan from that.”

The NRL’s return is not a case of starting as if nothing happened.

For a start, New Zealand Warriors have moved 1,500 miles across the Tasman Sea just to get playing again with no fans allowed in.

Matches will be held at six stadia – Bankwest, Central Coast and Campbelltown in New South Wales, at Brisbane and Townsville in Queensland and Melbourne’s AAMI Park in Victoria.

That means Canberra Raiders must travel almost 150 miles for home games after the NRL drew up a new fixture list, meaning the State of Origin series between New South Wales and Queensland will be in November.

Australia won a thrilling game 6-0 in Brisbane to lift the World Cup trophy
Australia’s Test series against England is in grave danger of being called off
AP:Associated Press

England will suffer as that almost certainly ends hopes of facing Australia in Ashes Tests and Burgess, who is up for working with new coach Shaun Wane, feels something has to happen.

The 31-year-old, who retired last year because of a shoulder problem, added: “Selfishly, from the game’s point of view it would be a shame to lose the Ashes.

“They don’t come around often, especially in England, and with the World Cup coming up it would be good to have those three games.

“Not having a match a year out from that gives an advantage to the Australians who have Origin, which is essentially three Tests.

Burgess says he would be happy to work with new England boss Shaun Wane

“Again from a selfish point of view, it would be good to have some high quality games, whether it be Yorkshire v Lancashire or an England v Rest of the World. You could even have some English players in that team.

“I actually bumped into Shaun in a café in January and we had a good chat, He’ll do a fantastic job and I’m up for working with him.

“I’m not sure what role that could be and I was looking at getting involved before all this happened.

“If I’m needed, I’m available. I‘m as patriotic as they come, anything that gives England the edge.”


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