New Wigan Warriors recruit George Burgess will add power to the pack
The capture of George Burgess gives Wigan an obvious boost on the pitch.
But his arrival has also provided another big advantage – helping ensure the forwards are better-prepared to face some of Super League’s giants.
The Warriors should pack a punch in 2020 with a clutch of bigger middles – and none bigger than former Souths star Burgess.
And defence coach Matty Peet says his presence in training will help their smaller forwards get to grips with the likes of Alex Walmsley and Sam Kasiano.
“Sometimes, we’ve been preparing to play teams with big forwards, and we’ve not had the chance to tackle players of that size,” said Peet.
“So you get to game day and it’s been a bit of a shock to the system for our players, having to tackle a player as big as George.
“Having him here, in training, is a big help.”
Peet’s return to Wigan in the middle of last season was credited with helping galvanise the squad as they climbed the ladder into the play-offs spots.
A former apprentice of Shaun Wane, he added bite to their defence and has been busy working with the players in the off-season, including sessions in an MMA-style octagon.
“A lot of people talk about the wrestle negatively, because they see it as a spoiling tactic and something that’s not rugby league,” said Peet, who returned to the club after a stint with Sale Sharks.
“But we consider it tackle technique, getting a player on the floor, getting your body in the right position, managing your weight correctly, communicating.”
Burgess, meanwhile, will be watched by older brother Sam when he makes his debut against Warrington on Thursday.
“It’s a new adventure for me and my young family,” said the 27-year-old.
“I always wanted to play Super League. I felt this was a good time for me, a time when I can still perform at a high standard.”
Burgess was immediately tempted when Wigan came calling but he had to win over the backing of mother Julie, who had also emigrated to Sydney and now works as a teacher, before signing a three-year deal.
“She was pretty upset at first, more so because she couldn’t get to see her grandkids as much, but she came around,” he said.
“And it’s a good excuse for her to come out and visit and see some of her friends she’s not seen for a while. I think she’s going to come at Easter and maybe July.”
Burgess says a move to Super League new boys Toronto was an option at one time but he did not take much persuading to join the Warriors.
“Wigan are a great club with a great history and they were interested in me before I looked at coming back,” he said. I looked at a few other options but Wigan seemed like the best fit.
“They are moving in a great direction and they have a brand new training facility which is probably the best in the league.”