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Burgess keen to trump Rabbitohs teammate

Fred Woodcock 19/10/2010 03:14:07 PM Comments (0)

England enforcer Sam Burgess has a reputation for putting hits on big men, but he's eyeing a smaller target ahead of the Four Nations rugby league opener against New Zealand on Saturday - his South Sydney teammate Issac Luke.

Burgess' king hit on Kiwis prop Fuifui Moimoi during a 2007 Test match in England has gone down in league folklore, especially as Moimoi had terrorised everyone throughout the NRL season that year with his ferocious tackling and barnstorming runs for Parramatta.

Burgess was an 18-year-old debutant for Great Britain in that match and in addition to spectacularly putting Moimoi on his back with what appeared to be nothing more than a shove, he laid a high shot on the big Tongan-born prop which left him dazed, and unable to eat solids for three days.

Moimoi is missing from the current Kiwis squad with a broken arm and Burgess, now 21, was loathe to single out another big forward to go head-to-head with.

Instead, tongue firmly in cheek, he suggested his good mate Luke, the small but powerful Kiwis hooker, could be in for some added attention.

"Is that what he said? Are you sure?" Luke later responded, with a laugh.

"I know what he's like. He won't come towards me, he'd be silly to do that."

It was all a bit of fun, but Burgess was quite serious when he said England would have to watch Luke closely during Saturday's Test.

The pair know each other's games inside out, having been teammates at South Sydney this season, and Burgess will do what needs to be done to stop Luke's impact from dummy half.

"He's one of my best mates - obviously he won't be on Saturday night - but he's very dynamic from dummy half and he's unbelievably strong and fast, so he's one we're going to have to have a very close look at," Burgess said before an England training session.

"If they get quick play-of-the-balls, he's tough to stop. When he gets a chance he's gone and he's virtually impossible to stop sometimes. He's a key factor in them getting forward."

Burgess said last Saturday's 18-18 draw with New Zealand Maori at Auckland had been dissected and while there were positives, there was also plenty to work on.

"I thought we were fairly good in the first 40 minutes, we defended strongly and possibly could have been 30 points up, but we weren't clinical enough in the second half and a lot of the basics we didn't complete."

England are doing their homework this week, co-opting Sydney Roosters coach Brian Smith to help provide inside knowledge on the Kiwis.

They have lost skipper Adrian Morley through injury - Warrington teammate Garreth Carvell has been flown in to replace him - but there is better news with influential halfback Sam Tomkins expected to be fit.

The Wigan playmaker picked up a leg injury against the Maori.

"He's working with medical team at start of the session but hopefully he'll train fully tomorrow," said England coach Steve McNamara, who also confirmed St Helens prop James Graham, 25, would take over the captaincy in Morley's absence after edging out Gareth Ellis and Sean O'Loughlin for the honour.

"James has been outstanding in the Super League competition and at international level for a couple of years now, and the way he plays the game will reflect in the way he captains the team."

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