x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Burgess family ties become strained over rugby selection

Luke Burgess was not selected for the England rugby side but his three younger brothers were, so let the awkwardness begin, writes Will Batchelor

Luke Burgess played in the NRL Preliminary final last week with the South Sydney Rabbitohs but will watch from the sidelines as three of his younger brothers will play for the English national side. Brett Hemmings / Getty Images
Luke Burgess played in the NRL Preliminary final last week with the South Sydney Rabbitohs but will watch from the sidelines as three of his younger brothers will play for the English national side. Brett Hemmings / Getty Images

It would take a heart of stone to feel no sympathy for Luke Burgess, the rugby league prop who plays for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Being overlooked for national selection is always a bitter blow, particularly for a player of his considerable talents. Being overlooked when a friend or contemporary is selected must be even worse.

So we can only imagine how Burgess feels at not one, not two, but three of his own brothers making the cut for the Rugby League World Cup, which is being held in his “home” nation of England later this month.

Younger brothers Sam, George and Tom Burgess were named this week as part of Steve McNamara’s squad to represent England in the tournament. Luke was not.

As they say in rugby league circles, “Poor, poor lad.” It could be an awkward Christmas in that Burgess clan this year:

The Secret Diary of Luke Burgess, age 26.

December 20, 2013

I wish everyone would stop treading on eggshells around me. Mum keeps offering visitors a “porcelain vessel of tea”.

I’ve told her that she’s allowed to say the word “cup”, but she reckons she’s always said “porcelain vessel”.

December 22, 2013

Oh great. Uncle Bob and Auntie Maureen have arrived.

Auntie Maureen keeps trying to measure me up for a “surprise” gift. I know she means well, but a replica England jersey is just not the same as the real thing. Especially when it is one she has knitted herself.

Uncle Bob just winks and says wool keeps you warmer when you’re not running around. He thinks he’s so funny.

December 23, 2013

The traditional family film night did not go very well. First of all, we could not agree on what to watch. Uncle Bob said I might like Home Alone and started laughing like a drain until Auntie Maureen gave him one of her looks.

Eventually mum suggested Whatever Happened To Baby Jane.

“It’s about a young starlet who is the talk of the town,” she said, “but then her younger sister turns out to be even more talented and anyway who fancies a game of charades?”

December 25, 2013

Christmas morning didn’t get off to the best start.

We all four got chocolate coins in our stockings, as usual, but only mine was threaded on to a ribbon.

“There, now you’ve all got a medal,” said Auntie Maureen. I thought about putting mine around her neck, very tightly.

Then it was time for lunch. Mum did beef this year. She said it was “for a change” and pretended not to hear Uncle Bob say that one turkey in the family was more than enough. To cheer me up, mum said I could have first go at digging into the pudding to look for the hidden coin.

Then Uncle Bob said it was not the first wooden spoon I’d been handed this year. I’m not quite sure what happened after that, but the doctors said they had managed to retrieve the spoon and that we should give it a good wash before putting it back in the pudding.

January 1, 2014

Uncle Bob finally regained consciousness today and said there were no hard feelings. In fact, below his waist, there were no feelings at all. He suggested it might be wise for me to take a break from rugby league, maybe go somewhere where nobody really talks or cares much about it.

I said it was an interesting idea, but that I wasn’t ready to return to England just yet.

sports@thenational.ae