Sam Burgess is looking forward to making up for lost time with England as he steps up his preparations for the World Cup.
The former Bradford forward, who is currently training with England at a high-altitude camp in South Africa, has missed the last two international tournaments through injury but is fit and raring to go ahead of the opening game against Australia on October 26.
“It’s always a great honour to play for this country,” said the South Sydney prop, who won the last of his 11 caps against Papua New Guinea in the 2010 Four Nations Series.
“It’s been two or three years now, so I’m looking forward to getting back into it.
“We’ve been in South Africa for a week now and the boys are coming together nicely. We’ve had good weather and the experience has been fantastic so far.
“You can see the RFL have really got behind the team with their investment in this and things like sports science and it’s giving us the best chance to go and do the job on the weekend.”
Burgess, who was this week voted the Rabbitohs’ player of the year by his teammates, has been part of the international scene for seven years, the last four of which have been spent in the NRL.
England coach Steve McNamara, who gave Burgess his Super League debut at Bradford, is delighted to have him available for the World Cup and believes his best is yet to come.
“Sam has always been a good professional and his game has improved,” McNamara said. “That week-in, week-out intensity is what he needed to test him.
“But you forget that Sam is only 24 and there is a lot more improvement in him. We’ve missed him over the last two years but he’s certainly made a big contribution to this camp.”
Burgess is in familiar company in Potchefstroom, having been joined in the 24-strong England camp by 21-year-old twin brothers George and Tom.
George had been expected to get the call after a huge season in which he won the NRL rookie-of-the-year award and Sam reckons Tom also deserves his spot after making a big impression in his debut season.
“The twins have worked very hard to get into this position,” he said. “To represent your country with your little brothers is going to be fantastic. I’ve probably not thought about until the last couple of weeks when everything came out.
Of course, much was made of the non-selection of the oldest of the Burgess brothers, Luke, who was a non-playing member of the England squad last year.
“It’s disappointing for Luke,” Sam said. “He came through his injury and played the back half of the year and played very well.