Burgess makes instant impact
English forward earns praise from South Sydney legend
Last Updated: 09/02/10 3:56pm
Burgess: NRL switch
Sam Burgess has been tipped to make a big impression in the NRL by South Sydney great Mario Fenech.
"He's not a brute but a big-boned bloke and a great athlete with all the skills."
Mario Fenech Quotes of the week
England forward Burgess has joined the Rabbitohs from Bradford Bulls and made his first appearance for the club in a trial match against Manly on Sunday.
He scored a try during a 20-minute stint in Souths' comfortable 42-12 win at Redfern Oval.
Fenech, who presented Burgess with his jumper before the game, could hardly contain his excitement and likened the prop to decorated ex-New Zealand captain Mark Graham.
"He was only out there for one quarter but he's obviously got all the skills," he said.
"He's an athlete. What surprised me is his mobility for a big man.
"He's a bit like Mark Graham ... he's not a brute but a big-boned bloke and a great athlete with all the skills.
"He's a very clever player. He knows where to run and is a very clever reader of play.
"He plays beyond his years. He's tough and brutal but he picks his time to put a shot on.
"I'd hate him to be running at me because he'd be a handful to stop."
Fenech also noted Burgess possesses the brain to match the brawn.
"My dad used to tell me 'son, the great players have got intelligence'," he added.
"Sam seems like a really smart kid and a good kid. He's obviously got the skills. We're expecting big things from him.
"He says he wants to challenge himself and he's come to the right place because the NRL is the best competition in the world."
Oscar-winning actor and Souths co-owner Russell Crowe lured Burgess to Souths and reduced the rookie forward to tears with his touching pre-game gesture before the Manly game.
He handed Burgess a South Sydney membership card in the name of the player's late father Mark, who died after a lengthy battle with motor neurone disease.
Fenech said Crowe's move furthered strengthened the bond Burgess already feels for the famous old club.
"You've got to respect the past because that leads you in the future and Sam fully comprehends that," Fenech said.
"This whole team has got a lot of hype around it but they understand they represent the past players and our culture and our history and tradition.
"All the signs are there that we'll go well but when that whistle blows you've got to be ready to rumble."