When Wigan Warriors signed George Burgess on a marquee contract ahead of the 2020 Super League season, there was rightly a barrage of interest.
Here was one of the most in-form forwards on his day leaving Australia to join one of the UK’s most prestigious clubs in a bid to help them to silverware.
Unfortunately, Burgess would play just eight times for Wigan, with a severe hip injury impairing his time at the club.
The decision was mutually made to let the rampaging prop go as he went in for career-saving hip surgery.
It was an operation that required having the top of his femur shaved off and a metal cap placed on top, with metal then placed into his pelvis to act as a socket.
No one has ever come back from that type of surgery, but Burgess believed it was a necessary act after playing with so much pain in England – and his stunning transformation since then proves that.
“I have dropped probably 10 kilos,” Burgess told the Daily Telegraph.
“I was 134 when I started and it ranges between 123 and 125 at the minute.
“I am 29 so I am still hanging on to the 20s.
“But mentally I feel really fresh. It is probably down to the fact in years ‘19, ‘20, ‘21 I have probably only played not 20 games in those three years.
“I am raring to go.
“I have a lot of football left in me. I have only played 150 games so I think I can play a lot more than that in my career, especially now I have the new metal hip.
“To be honest when I left the NRL, you know, you do the parade on the grand final, and it didn’t feel right at the time.
“I was only 27 so I thought I might come back and play.
“But there was definitely a point in England when I thought I wouldn’t be able to come back and play at any level.
“So just to be pulling on the boots again, I am very grateful for that. I am looking forward to it.”
Burgess revealed that the injury took its mental toll as well as physically.
“It was a very frustrating time,” he continued.
Next week, he will go head-to-head against twin Tom when he takes on his old club South Sydney in the Charity Shield.
It’s a clash that Burgess is excited for, though his mum certainly won’t be!
“We have never played against each other except in opposed training sessions at Souths,” George said.
“But it will just be like backyard footy back in the day. We don’t mind putting a few shots on each other.
“But I don’t know if my Mum will be able to watch. She might be covering her eyes.”