Burgess ready to grasp ‘massive opportunity’

Wigan's Joe Burgess, left
Wigan's Joe Burgess, left
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JOE Burgess’ mission to claim Pat Richards’ vacant wing spot for his own has got off to a flying start.

The 19-year old winger or centre has notched six tries in the pre-season friendly wins over Leigh Centurions and St Helens, setting a high marker for Dom Manfredi and Anthony Gelling who are also competing for first team action.

Burgess’ two tries at Langtree Park on Friday night came at vital times as Warriors eventually took hold of the game to win 28-16 and his form could earn him a place in the squad to face Huddersfield on Friday.

“I want to play as much as I can,” said the England Academy starlet.

“The more experience I can get the better.

“I still qualify to play in the under-19s but I want to play Super League.”

The former Ince Rose Bridge amateur made a strong first team debut in the home win over Hull KR last season before scoring a try for the young side which lost 34-33 to Hull FC a week after the club won the

Challenge Cup at Wembley.

And with comparisons to points machine Pat Richards being made, Burgess admits to learning a lot from the Ireland international, despite wanting to eventually be recognised for his own hallmarks.

“I learned a lot from Pat,” said Burgess.

“He spent a lot of time with me on reading a defence, jumping for high kicks – I learned it from him because he was one of the best at it.”

Despite opening a door for the youngster, Burgess wasn’t pleased to see Richards depart at the end of last season after an eight-season stay at Wigan to rejoin Wests Tigers in the NRL.

But the ex-St Edmund Arrowsmith pupil won’t let sentiment get in the way of his pursuit of achieving his dream of being the champions’ first-choice winger.

“I learned a lot from him,” continued Burgess.

“I’m not glad Richards has gone, but it has provided me with more of an opportunity now.”

And to ensure Burgess keeps sight of his goal, he is continuing to improve his game, well aware of the fact his career is still in its infancy, despite impressive showings when he has been called into the first team.

“I got my chance last year and this year is a big one,” he said.

“I’m working on areas of my game like defensive reading, darting through gaps.”

Yet even when he puts in hard work, Burgess knows coach Shaun Wane will have homework for his academy product.

“He’s ll always find something to work on,” Burgess admitted.