Burgess lured by Sydney lifestyle

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Published: Friday 23rd January 2015 by The News Editor

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Joe Burgess cited the Sydney lifestyle as one of the reasons for rejecting a new contract offer from Wigan.

The 20-year-old will quit Super League at the end of the 2015 season to take up a three-year deal with 2013 NRL champions Sydney Roosters, where England coach Steve McNamara is on the backroom staff.

Wigan director Kris Radlinski says the club made every effort to tie down the homegrown winger, who scored 25 tries in his first full Super League season, including Wigan’s only touchdown in their Grand-Final defeat by St Helens in October, all before his 20th birthday which he celebrated on the flight to Brisbane for the Four Nations Series.

“It’s a sad one for us all,” Radlinski said. “We did all we could and started conversations about a year ago, when he scored four tries against Leigh.

“After many discussions it was clear to me that Joe had made his mind up. I said ‘do you want me to put Wigan’s best possible offer to you?’ He said ‘no, I want the Sydney lifestyle and to try the NRL’.

“It’s a big step for him and I admire his confidence but it is a blow for us.”

Burgess, who was a non-playing member of the England squad down under, is the latest big name to leave Super League for the lure of the NRL.

Former Wigan full-back Sam Tomkins was among seven NRL-based players in the 24-strong England squad in the autumn and ex-Hull KR hooker Josh Hodgson has since joined them after signing for Canberra.

However, Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan insists the club can replace Burgess and says the door remains open for his return.

“It is disappointing to lose a talented young player but as, (coach) Shaun Wane has proven in recent years, no one is irreplaceable,” Lenagan said.

“The Wigan club has a strong succession plan in place and we will look to utilise that to ensure a seamless transition when Joe departs.

“Joe leaves with our best wishes and the door certainly remains open for him to return to us just as Joel Tomkins and Lee Mossop have in the past year.”

Burgess said: “I t was a hard decision as I’ve grown up being a lifelong Wigan fan but I didn’t want miss the opportunity.

“I’m going to try my hardest to help the team win every trophy before I do go.”

Burgess has been given Pat Richards’ old squad number for the new season and Radlinski says players like Dom Manfredi, Lewis Tierney, Ryan Hampshire and Oliver Gildart will be given the chance to take the number five shirt for 2016.

Meanwhile, Wigan say they fended off interest from Australia to secure the future of half-back or hooker Sam Powell, 22, and 19-year-old prop Ryan Sutton, who have both signed new four-year deals.

Powell made 22 appearances for the Warriors last year and started at hooker in the Grand Final, while S utton, 19, made his Super League debut in Wigan’s record 84-6 win over Bradford on Easter Monday.

Radlinski said: “We are absolutely delighted to have both Sam and Ryan agree new four-year deals with the club.

“Sam showed last year glimpses of what he is capable of last season and will only kick on this year as he gains more experience at Super League level.

“Likewise Ryan was excellent in the games he played last year. He recently played for the Academy against the Australian Schoolboys and put in an amazing effort to play the full 80 minutes against a formidable pack.

“We have had to fend off very serious interest from clubs in Australia for both of these players which shows how highly rated they both are.

“It is a great shot in the arm for the club and with continued development I am confident they will both go on to become the next stars of Super League.”

Published: Friday 23rd January 2015 by The News Editor

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