Why George Burgess would be a bigger signing for Wigan Warriors than you may think - comment
"What a signing he would be,” wrote one fan, in reply to our story about Wigan’s interest in George Burgess yesterday.
“I will actually self combust if this comes off,” wrote another.
“Imagine the scenes if Wigan manage to actually pull this off.”
And on they went.
Some prayed. Not one thought he would be a bad signing.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported Burgess was "likely" to join Wigan, and the very fact they have contacted the prop’s agent and made a move for him was enough to excite supporters.
And so it should.
Burgess is 27.
He is a current international, a current NRL star.
If rugby league can even claim to have any household names, then he’s one of them.
Few doubt he would give Wigan’s middle the physical presence and drive they have lacked.
The fact they have targeted him also goes against their trend on props.
Previously, under Ian Lenagan’s ownership at least, Wigan have favoured recruiting props from lower-ranked clubs and developing them. Think Tony Clubb, Ben Flower, Joe Bullock, Taulima Tautai, Gabe Hamlin, Romain Navarrete, Gil Dudson, Andy Coley. And many have served them well.
The last ‘star’ front row signing they had was Frank-Paul the Wrecking Ball, who didn’t really wreck much, and was on the outer at Canberra. And they only got Jeff Lima because Melbourne were desperate to strip players for salary cap reasons.
Which is not to say Wigan haven’t had good props, you understand.
Clubb and Flower still do a fine job, the youngsters coming through are exciting, and Lam made the good point Burgess’ age would make him a good bridge between those two ends of the spectrum.
In a salary cap era, it's impossible to recruit or retain stars in every area - and Wigan's policy, if it is that, has certainly served them well over the last 10 years.
If you were to look at Wigan’s squads during that time and pick out the current internationals, you’ll see them dotted around Wigan’s outside backs, halfbacks and back-rowers. But there are very few in the front-row (Lee Mossop was one, and he was homegrown).
Given his calibre and his age, I imagine Burgess would command a marquee player allowance spot. Super League clubs are now allowed two Marquee players, meaning only £150k (or £75k if homegrown) of their salaries count on the cap.
I know Lenagan has been irritated by suggestions Wigan haven't spent up to the cap limit of £2m, insisting they have (they actually spend more with dispensations such as having a marquee player - George Williams - and so many homegrown players).
If they can get Burgess over the line, it would be a real statement of intent from Wigan, and drive up the excitement for next season so soon after the recruitment of Jackson Hastings, and amid reports of a move for exciting Parramatta back Bevan French.
I echo the reaction from the start – what a signing Burgess would be.