JOE Burgess admits he still finds his rise to Super League stardom “crazy”.
The 19-year-old has been one of the success stories of the early stages of this season.
He has established himself in the left-wing role, quickly easing fans’ concerns the Warriors would struggle to fill Pat Richards’ vacancy.
Burgess has been surprised by his success so far.
Given the squad No.32 at the start of the year, he was only called-up for the first-team’s pre-season training camp in Florida the day before when Josh Charnley withdrew with a groin problem.
He quickly made an impression on his coach, and 10 tries in three friendlies were followed by a try-scoring appearance in the World Club Challenge and an extended run in the team.
“It still feels weird,” he said. “Every week there’s something new, and it just gets better and better.
“Three years ago I was asking the players for pictures, now to be on the other side of it, it’s crazy.”
Burgess – nicknamed ‘budgie’ and no relation to the NRL-playing brothers – created the opening try for Liam Farrell in Wigan’s last match, a 12-4 victory at Warrington.
He frequently caught the eye with an assured and lively performance, against vastly-experienced former Kangaroos international Joel Monaghan.
And he believes the victory – against one of Wigan’s leading rivals for silverware – has injected life into a campaign which had previously failed to spark since the World Club Challenge.
“That was the start of our season,” he declared. “It was our best performance and we’ll crack on from this and win more.
“It was a hard game, when you’re defending and defending, it really takes it out of you – especially in bad weather.
“But the fans were the loudest yet, they really gave us a boost.
“I’m sure I heard my own little song, too – ‘there’s only one Joe Burgess’ – I was loving that!”
His improvement has not gone unnoticed by his team-mates either.
“He works really hard in training and he’s starting to reap the rewards now,” said forward John Bateman. “You can see that he is going to get even better.”
Burgess was one of three players in the mix to replace Richards this season, along with Dom Manfredi and Kiwi Anthony Gelling.
Manfredi, 20, is on a month-long loan at Salford but didn’t play last Sunday, despite a try-scoring debut the previous week.
Wigan have no disciplinary concerns ahead of Friday’s visit of Catalan.