NRL: Burgess keen for battle to resume with roomie

By Russell Jackson

Sam Burgess is on form for the Rabbitohs tonight. Photo / Mark Kolbe
Sam Burgess is on form for the Rabbitohs tonight. Photo / Mark Kolbe

Sam Burgess is looking forward to renewing hostilities with fellow Englishman and former roommate James Graham tonight.

South Sydney enforcer Burgess and Canterbury's Graham clash in the NRL preliminary final at ANZ Stadium in front of an expected crowd of 70,000.

It's a return to the venue where the pair had to be separated after a heated exchange in June when the Bulldogs beat the Rabbitohs 23-18.

Burgess charged at Graham with the ball after the referee had blown the whistle after an error from a restart.

Graham backed off when he heard the whistle but Burgess charged into the Bulldogs prop, who responded with a shoulder, and they had to be pulled apart.

"I think a lot more got made of it than what it actually was.

"I didn't hear a whistle and he did. It's all behind us," said Burgess.

"Me and James are really good friends - he was actually my roomie on the England team.

"James has had a cracking year for the Dogs.

"He certainly adds a lot to their side. It's always great playing against the good players and the good teams."

As if the lure of a grand final appearance on September 30 wasn't enough for the two Englishmen, they also have the chance to join a select group of countrymen to have played in a decider in Australia.

Rugby league statistician David Middleton said only 19 Englishmen had played in a league grand final in Australia's elite competition and just 10 emerged winners.

Adrian Morley was the last, winning the 2002 premiership with the Sydney Roosters.

Morley joined premiership-winning countrymen Dick Huddart (St George, 1966), Dave Bolton (Balmain, 1969), Malcolm Reilly (Manly 1972-73), Phil Lowe (Manly, 1976), Gary Stephens (Manly, 1976), Steve Norton (Manly, 1976), Kevin Ward (Manly, 1987), Lee Jackson (Newcastle, 1997) and Harvey Howard (Brisbane, 2000).

At least one Englishman will play on grand final day with four in action in the two qualifiers this weekend.

First off the rank will be Melbourne five-eighth Gareth Widdop on Friday night against Manly at AAMI Park.

The following night there will be three Englishman battling for a place in the grand final with Canterbury's Graham not only locking horns with Sam but also his brother Luke.


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