Rabbitohs’ special band of Burgess brothers

Eldest brother Sam (centre) with twins Tom and George Burgess Photo: Eva Rinaldi

The South Sydney Rabbitohs saw the debut of four brothers in the same side for the first time in 103 years against Wests Tigers on Friday night at Allianz Stadium.

It will be the first opportunity the English-born Burgess siblings have had to play in the same side. Sam and Luke will both start while twins Tom and George will be coming off the bench.

“It [playing together] is obviously something as a group they’ve been really keen to achieve,” coach Michael Maguire said on Wednesday. “And it’s through merit, they thoroughly deserve their positions.”

Luke, Sam and Thomas have squared off on the field. Luke, who played the bulk of his English career for Leeds, faced Sam and Thomas in separate matches when the pair played for Bradford. Three of the four brothers have played together at various stages but never have the quartet taken to the field together at any level.

The Burgess boys will become the first foursome of brothers to play first grade since Annandale’s Roy, Ray, Rex and Bernard Norman featured in 1910.

”It’s definitely an exciting thought but at the minute that’s all it is,” Luke, 26, said. ”We are such a close team. We are four brothers within a big group of 35 brothers, that’s how close we are. I think I would have played that week if Sam was in or not. It’s unfortunate he was banned. You never know, the four of us may have played earlier.”

The death of their dad Mark of motor neurone disease, when the three younger brothers were still in their teens, hit hard. Luke has taken a mentoring role of his siblings to help mum Julie, who has since joined them in Sydney.

”It’s something you never get over,” Luke said. ”To lose your father at such a young age is something you never think you’re going to have to deal with. Especially the twins, they were far too young.”

Rabbitohs owner Russell Crowe played a crucial role in the recruitment of the Burgess brothers reassuring their mum Julie that South Sydney could be as much a home to her family as the North of England. Once it was confirmed that all four of her boys would be at Souths, he managed to persuade her to make the move to Sydney herself to be closer to them.

Life is looking very sweet  for the Burgess family at the moment, and with the Redfern outfit in prime position to take out the Minor Premiership along with a serious chance at taking out the Grand Final it could continue to get even sweeter.

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