Sam Burgess urges England to write history against Australia in World Cup

first_img“How can you not be excited for this opportunity?” says Sam Burgess – who, like most of the England 17 who will play at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, has yet to experience beating Australia. Indeed only two players – the captain, Sean O’Loughlin, and James Roby – remain from that 2006 Great Britain side. “I’m sure Lockers and Robes might use those memories but we’ve an experienced squad no matter what,” Burgess said. “We know what they’ll bring, we know what they come with and we’ll be ready for them.”For once, what the Australians will bring has been called into question. Mainstays of their side such as the Golden Boot winners Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis are injured and only five of their 24-man squad have World Cup experience. One of that quintet, Tyson Frizell, played for Wales in the 2013 tournament.The Kangaroos are still the favourites but to some this appears to be an opportunity to catch them cold. Burgess, though, who has spent 2017 tackling Australia’s best as the captain of South Sydney, is refusing to be complacent. “I’m not buying into them being any weaker than normal,” he adds. “The moment you think someone is weak is the moment you get beat. They are the champion side in this tournament. They are the team to beat, and they know how to get it done. It doesn’t matter whether we’re playing them first up, second up or at any other point in the tournament – it’s England versus Australia. It’s serious.”Roby, who will start Friday’s game from the bench, concedes that it has been too long since a British victory against the Kangaroos. “It shouldn’t be that long between the last win and now,” he says. “Let’s have the rest of the lads experiencing what it’s like.” Sam Burgess Rugby league It is not do-or-die when England begin their World Cup campaign against Australia in Melbourne on Friday but there is an acute awareness among the squad regarding what victory over the world champions would represent.For starters, there is the opportunity to end what seems like a never-ending sequence of defeats to Australia, stretching back to Great Britain’s 23-12 win in the 2006 Tri-Nations. For an England victory you must delve even further back in the archives, to the opening game of the 1995 World Cup. Share on Messenger Australia favourites but Rugby League World Cup’s big three are now a big four … we have a small favour to ask. 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Share on Facebook Reuse this content His experiences of the World Cup in league are arguably even more enduring, though, with his man-of-the-match performance, perhaps the best of his career, proving to be in vain as England were eliminated by New Zealand in the dying seconds at Wembley in 2013.“I don’t need any extra motivation from recent events in my career,” Burgess says, perhaps subtly referring to 2015 rather than 2013. “I take each new challenge on its merit and this time I’m looking forward to hopefully writing some history.”A first World Cup since Great Britain’s success of 1972 would certainly count as history for Burgess – but just the feeling of beating Australia for the first time would qualify, too.Australia Slater; Gagai, Chambers, Dugan, Holmes; Morgan, Cronk; Woods, Smith, Klemmer, Cordner, Gillett, Trbojevic. Interchange Graham, McLean, Mcguire, Frizell.England Lomax; McGillvary, Watkins, Bateman, Hall; Widdop, Gale; Hill, Hodgson, Graham, S Burgess, Whitehead, O’Loughlin. Interchange Walmsley, Heighington, T Burgess, Roby. Since you’re here… England rugby league team Support The Guardian news Rugby League World Cup 2017 Share on WhatsApp Share via Email Share on Pinterest Topics Rugby League World Cup 2017: team-by-team guide Read more Australia rugby league Share on Twitter Guardian Australia sport newsletter: subscribe by email Share on LinkedIn Australia sport Read more The tone among the England players is certainly heartening and there is also more than national pride at stake; victory should provide an easier route through the rest of the tournament, too.Whoever finishes second in Group A – which is likely to be the losers of Friday’s game – will know they will face the winners of Group B – probably New Zealand – in Auckland in the semi-finals. The winners of Group A will in theory have things easier in the last four.England have not reached the final since 1995 and they arrive with the disappointment of last year’s Four Nations still weighing on them. The Wayne Bennett-era began with something of a whimper 12 months ago, as England failed to qualify from the group after defeats to New Zealand and, naturally, Australia.It was a mixed tournament for Burgess, who at least captained his country for the first time after returning from rugby union. “It was disappointing results-wise but there was lots to take away from it,” he says. Immediately after they were eliminated, Bennett held court and promised the national side would be better prepared for this year. On Friday we will begin to find out whether he was right.Even though Burgess has handed the captaincy back to O’Loughlin, it will still be hard for the 28-year-old to avoid the spotlight. His most recent World Cup – in 2015 with England’s rugby union side – ended with disappointment and lengthy, lingering fallout that has resurfaced this month. Read morelast_img

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