Burke braced for forwards battle

Greg Burke
Greg Burke

GREG Burke has his eyes on a starting spot when Warriors kick off the new Super League season in February.

The 22-year-old is back in the Warriors ranks following a season-long loan at Hull KR.

Now I’ve been away to another team for a year and it’s helped me physically and mentally

Greg Burke

And with warm-up games against Leigh and Salford ahead of the Super League opener against Catalans on February 5, Burke says the pre-season hit outs are more than just friendlies to the forwards vying for a spot.

“Waney has already said that. One of the things he said was, in the pre-season friendlies, it’s up to us to take our chance,” said the prop.

“We’ll all get a fair crack, and it’s simple here, everyone knows if you play well in those you’ll be in, and then it’s the start of the season.

“They’re not just a hit out, they’re more of a trial this year, and personally I hope I can get in.”

Having reaped the physical rewards of a tough start to life back at Wigan’s training base in Orrell, Burke is happy with how he has settled back into the club, for whom he last played in July 2014 in a 56-10 win over Hull FC.

“It’s going well, a bit tough but you expect that and it’s what you want,” he said.

“I’m just trying to keep up with the forwards and as long as I’m in and around them weights wise, fitness wise, I’m going to be okay.”

Burke made 21 appearances for Hull KR last term, and faced his parent club twice, finding himself on the winning side in a 22-20 success over Wigan in March before Warriors’ 60-0 win over The Robins in May.

But with his loan deal coming to an end, the Warriors academy product feels he has returned to the west side of the Pennines a better player, and agrees with coach Shaun Wane’s view that the move was beneficial.

“Yeah I’d agree.” said Burke.

“Even being back feels different for me, my mentality is different – before I was a young man, mentally. Now I’ve been away to another team for a year and it’s helped me physically and mentally.”

Ahead of Super League XXI, Burke has been concentrating on his physique as he looks to prise his way into Wane’s match day squad, and insists he has made good progress.

“My skin folds have dropped but I’ve kept my weight,” he explained.

“So I’ve put some muscle on and that’s in the right direction and put me in good shape.”