Burgess: I can’t wait for this one

Joe Burgess celebrates a try with Oliver Gildart. Burgess scored six tries in his opening four games before injury
Joe Burgess celebrates a try with Oliver Gildart. Burgess scored six tries in his opening four games before injury

Joe Burgess admits he couldn’t have timed his return to action any better.

The 22-year-old, who has missed the last five matches with a knee injury, is back for the Good Friday showdown with St Helens.

Sean O’Loughlin, Anthony Gelling and Micky McIlorum are also in the frame to boost Shaun Wane’s depleted side.

And Burgess is thrilled to be in the mix, declaring the Good Friday derby his favourite fixture in the regular calendar.

“When I was injured I was told I’d be out for five or six weeks, so I was desperate to get back for this one,” said Burgess.

“It’s just the build-up. It’s like a final, because the majority of the players are from Wigan, they have grown up with this game, and passed it on to the blokes who aren’t from Wigan.

I’m sure players like Morgan (Escare) will know what to expect but, if not, he’ll definitely know when he walks out at 12pm on Friday!

I can’t wait for this one.”

Burgess, who returned to his hometown club this year after a season in the NRL, has scored a try in both his previous Good Friday encounters in 2014 and ‘15.

“Last year, I was on the other side of the world and I got up early in the morning to watch it on TV,” the ex-Sydney Roosters and Souths winger said. “It was a bit of a weird experience, I enjoyed being a fan again - but I much prefer playing in them!

“There’s something about the Good Friday games.

“It’s just the tradition, people will post the videos of the past games, Faz and Scully going head to head - obviously fighting’s not good for the game - but it adds spice to it.”

Burgess could dislodge Liam Marshall on the left wing, or alternatively be used in the centre role which would allow Willie Isa to return to his preferred place in the forwards.

Burgess played centre when Marshall made his debut in the 20-0 win against Leigh last month - a game which saw him hobble off with a knee injury.

He underwent an operation and has now been given the green-light to resume his campaign, having chalked up six tries in his first four matches.

Opponents Saints sacked coach Keiron Cunningham on Monday, and Burgess added: “They could take it both ways, they could put their heads down or they could think they owe Keiron one, and I expect that’s what they’ll do because he did a lot of great things for that club.”

More than 21,000 tickets have been sold for Friday’s clash. Ben Thaler is referee, with Jack Smith in charge for Monday’s trip to Wakefield.