Wigan Warriors star rues missed GB opportunity

Joe Burgess
Joe Burgess

Joe Burgess admits watching Great Britain’s tour was particularly frustrating – knowing he could have been there if he’d played to his potential.

The Wigan winger started 2019 in scorching fashion, linking well with centre Oliver Gildart, and it appeared his injury woes of the previous year were behind him.

But by his own admission his form dropped as the campaign unfolded, and few were surprised he was overlooked for the Lions tour despite the lack of wingers.

Coach Wayne Bennett only picked two wingers in his 24-man squad – including Ryan Hall, who barely figured for Sydney Roosters this year – and ended up playing stand-off Blake Austin on the edge for the final two Tests.

And Burgess said: “It was frustrating, I started well and if I’d carried that on all year I might have made the tour.

“But I didn’t play nowhere near well enough.

“It was such a good opportunity. (St Helens’) Tommy Makinson was a cert for one of the spots, but he got injured in the Grand Final.

“If I’d been playing better, who knows? I’m kicking myself, really, I could have done way more myself.”

Burgess’ 2018 season was cut short by a serious knee injury but he showed few problems when he returned in March this year, scoring eight tries in his first four matches.

“When I first came back I was flying in – I didn’t even think about the knee,” he said.

“But when it started swelling up and I took a knock, I think it got into my head. You start going into tackles trying to look after yourself, and you can’t do that.

“I need to cope with that better, because it’s rare you go a season without injuries.”

Burgess rested his knee in the off-season to ensure he was firing for pre-season.

“I’ve not had a full pre-season for a while, so I’m looking forward to it,” he added.