There is one game in the NRL that will attract an English interest this weekend, as Gareth Ellis and Sam Burgess square up for the first time for their respective Australian clubs.
Ellis has just signed a two year extension to his West Tigers contract, which will keep him at the Sydney based club until the end of 2013, and there is little doubt he will want to celebrate with a victory over his England team mate.
Speaking in Australia, Ellis said; “I’m really happy with how I’ve settled in with the Tigers in a short space of time.
“Definitely one of the reasons why I’m here is to win a premiership and the club is heading in the right direction.”
The news of Ellis’ contract extension comes a day after it was revealed Sam Burgess signed for South Sydney in September 2009 for as little as $1 million over a four year period.
Burgess joined Souths from Bradford after meeting with its co-owner Russell Crowe on a film set last year. A document lodged to the Australian Department of Immigration stated Burgess would earn only $150,000 (£90,000) in his first year of a four year contract, with his base salary increasing up to $300,000 (£180,000) by his final year.
Compared to other NRL stars such as Jarryd Hayne, Burgess’ salary is a pittance. Hayne is reported to be earning an average of $500,000 (£300,000) per year for four years with Parramatta, while Burgess’ fellow team mate Roy Asotari is earning $450,000 per year according to reports from when he joined the Rabbitohs.
But none of that will worry Burgess as his team take on Gareth Ellis’ in the early hours of Sunday morning. The game is being played at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where 12 months ago both these teams contested a 23-22 thriller going in favour of South Sydney.
Wests have won seven of the past ten competitive meetings between these two sides, but they have failed to register a win in their past three NRL games, including a disappointing 12-8 loss to Sydney Roosters.
Souths have been just as inconsistent as their opponents having won only half of their games this season. Wests will want to keep an early eye on Beau Champion, who has scored first for Souths three times already this season. Both teams will want to secure the two competition points, and give themselves a comfortable gap over one another in the league standings. Both teams are on 10 points, with Souths ahead on points difference.
The game will be shown live on Premier Sports this Sunday, Sky Channel 433 at 5am. Full match repeats will be shown at 11.30am and 6pm on the same day.