George Burgess was heartbroken when he didn’t make England’s World Cup squad last year, but it made him even hungrier to up his game.
The 26-year-old was not picked by England coach Wayne Bennett for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, and he has not played for his country since the 2016 Four Nations.
But being left out of the side spurred Burgess on to get back to being one of the top front-rowers in the world and now he is back in the England squad ahead of their autumn internationals against France and New Zealand.
He said: “I missed out last year which was hard for me, but I worked very hard from the start of pre-season to try and get back in here.
“It’s good to be back in the England team, it means a lot to me and I’m looking forward to playing.
“You can never expect to play and the competition for spots is always fierce. You’ve got to be on top of your game, and my game probably wasn’t at its best that year. It was a good lesson for me to go back and work hard and get back to where I needed to be.
“It was a good little bit of motivation to keep going in those hard days in the pre-season. It was good for me, and I just wanted to keep working hard. We’ve got some more hard work in front of us before these games and then hopefully we’ll get some good performances.”
Burgess, who came through the ranks at Bradford Bulls before joining South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2012, admitted that injuries hampered him in 2017.
But he is fully fit right now and is raring to go in the three-match Test series against New Zealand, which kicks off at Hull on October 27.
He explained: “I had a lot of issues with my body, it wasn’t really doing what I wanted it to do with a hip injury I had.
“I had to get my fitness right, and I always knew if I could do that then I’d get back to where I needed to be. I think I got that right in pre-season and felt good again.
“I had a few bits of surgery, two or three, in the year before. It took a bit longer than you’d expect to come back from – every surgery was a bit different.
“We’ve got a few fresh faces now and it’s good to see the next generation coming through. These games are a great opportunity to blood a few younger guys in preparation for the 2021 World Cup.”