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Burgess 'needs time to settle' at Souths

By Ian McCullough 13/11/2009 06:30:19 PM Comments (0)

South Sydney coach John Lang admits he's unsure how England prop Sam Burgess will fare in his first season in the NRL and urged the Rabbitohs' long-suffering fans not to expect instant success.

The hype surrounding the 20-year-old's arrival has not been heard since English great Ellery Hanley joined Balmain in 1988 and, although Lang is confident the Test star can handle the pressure, he acknowledged the need to give the former Bradford bookend time to adjust.

"I am not expecting him to show storming form right from the start," Lang said on Friday.

"He might hit the ground running, I don't know. But we see him as a long-term investment for the club."

Burgess, who has signed a four-year deal, will link up with his new teammates on December 14, which is also his 21st birthday, and Lang has no doubt he will fit in comfortably.

"There will be hype ... I have only spoken to him once but he is a very down to earth young man," he said.

"I don't think it will worry him. He played Test football at 18 and coped and there's a fair bit of pressure there."

Burgess will line up next season alongside fellow recruit, former Brisbane behemoth David Taylor, in a fearsome forward pack that will contain Roy Asotasi, Michael Crocker and another new face in Ben Ross, who joined from Cronulla.

And like the Englishman, Lang is not putting any pressure on the 21-year-old Queenslander.

"Like Sam, people will be expecting big things from David, but he will also need a time to adjust after moving down from Brisbane.

"But they are both outstanding talents and will be great investments for the club."

The two-time Dally M coach of the year is refreshed and ready for his return to the NRL after a three-year break following his departure from Penrith in 2006.

However, Lang, who spent eight years leading Cronulla before guiding the Panthers to the 2003 premiership, admitted he did think twice about taking over from the sacked Jason Taylor in September.

"I was offered the opportunity and I had to go away and really think about it. But I realised if I knocked it back I would regret it," he said.

And the 58-year-old, who was working at Souths as a football consultant, thought the chance to coach at the highest level again had passed him by.

"I am not a big planner, particularly at this stage of my life and career," he said.

"But I definitely needed a break from the game which is something you don't realise when you are doing it. I coached for 13 years straight which is not ideal to be perfectly honest.

"I feel refreshed but I think I do need to come up to speed a little bit."

And with Souths owner Russell Crowe growing more impatient with the lack of success at the club he bought into in 2006, Lang is under no illusions about the pressure he faces, with Souths having made the finals just once in the past 20 years.

"I think every NRL coach is under pressure but there is certainly more expectation at this club than in the past," he said.

"But if you go to war with a good army there may be more expectations, but there is also more chance of survival. We've got good soldiers so let's see where they can take us."

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