George Burgess opens up on Dragons link

George Burgess has confirmed he’s in talks with the Dragons about a potential NRL comeback and says he can “definitely” return to his best after he underwent surgery on a chronic hip injury.

The 2014 Rabbitohs premiership-winner hasn’t played in the NRL since 2019, while his hip injury ended his 2020 Super League campaign with Wigan after just eight games.

But the 29-year-old had hip-resurfacing surgery six weeks ago and, after finding “a new lease on life”, says he’s had an “informal” chat with St George Illawarra assistant coach Peter Gentle about pursuing an NRL return with the Dragons. Gentle was an assistant coach at the Rabbitohs during Burgess’ 151-game stint with South Sydney and the pair have remained close mates since.

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“It was a really informal thing … I’m mates with him and keep in touch with him and he just spoke to me and obviously he’s an assistant there now. It was really informal but obviously the Dragons are a great club,” Burgess told reporter Danny Weidler on Sydney’s Nine News.

“The longer I give it to heal and the more rehab I do … it’s going to get better. I want to give it at least 12 months from the surgery, playing-wise.

“I do feel like I can get back to my best – definitely. The rest of my body is feeling really good.”

Burgess was one of the most damaging front-rowers in the NRL between 2012 and 2019, racking up giant metres and tormenting opposition defence with his barnstorming hit-ups close to the try line.

In the Rabbitohs’ 2014 grand final victory over the Bulldogs, the Englishman churned out 213 metres, including 72 post-contact, and bagged a try.

The 15-Test Pom was at one stage joined by all three brothers – Sam, Tom and Luke – at the Rabbitohs. South Sydney prop George is the only Burgess brother currently playing in the NRL.

Dual Dally M medallist Peter Sterling has reservations over Burgess’ body but says he would make for a terrific addition to an NRL club “at the right price”.

“It’s come out of the blue, this one, hasn’t it? It’d be a bit of a risk. He’s 29 years of age and coming back from a pretty important injury,” Sterling told reporter Cameron Williams on Sydney’s Nine News.

“But he is a premiership-winner, he’s a quality forward, he’s a big body in the middle and that appeals to clubs. So I think if you could get him at the right price I think you could certainly bring him in to bolster your forward pack.”

Burgess had been battling his chronic hip injury for more than a decade and said his successful surgery had had a huge impact on his outlook.

“It’s quite debilitating so I feel like I have a new lease on life,” Burgess said.

“That’s the thing with chronic pain; you have it for so long that you forget what it’s done to you.”

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