Sam Burgess details Super League opportunity as he delivers honest assessment: ‘Warrington deserves better’

Ben Olawumi
Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess - Alamy

New Warrington Wolves head coach Sam Burgess was plain and simple in delivering his verdict about the club’s recent woes as he looked ahead to a brighter future: The town ‘deserves better’.

England and Great Britain icon Burgess penned a two-year deal to take charge at the Halliwell Jones Stadium back on August 7, making his return from a 12-year stint down under in the NRL, first as a player and then a backroom coach.

This will be his first head coach gig in a professional environment, having previously taken the reins at amateur Australian outfit Orara Valley Axemen in ‘Group 2 Rugby League’.

The Dewsbury-born chief insists he’s relishing the opportunity of leading the Wire, acknowledging the issues that he must address ahead of 2024, inheriting a side who lost eight in a row midway through this year and stumbled into the play-offs, falling at the first hurdle.

Warrington Wolves boss Sam Burgess delves into Super League ‘opportunity’ with club which brought him back to England

Burgess spoke to the media for the first time in a press conference at the Wolves’ home ground this morning having made the move back home from down under just a few weeks ago.

He said: “It’s great to be back in England. It’s my first time living this side of the Pennines, so I’m enjoying that, plenty of planning has gone into place. We’ve got a group of players in next week, some young players, so I’m excited for that now.

For me, it’s an opportunity with this great club. There are some very passionate people involved – Stuart Middleton, Simon Moran, Mike Lomax – some people I’ve met before my time here who I’ve got a relationship with, and you can see why the club’s in a great position. A bit of work needs to be done in the playing department, and that’ll be my focus.

“It’s a big challenge, a great challenge. I like it when people say that (I’m not ready for this job), it’s what makes it exciting for me.

I know that it’s going to be a great challenge, don’t get me wrong. We’ve got a lot of work to do as a playing group, and that’s why it’s exciting.”

‘Warrington deserves better’: Burgess delivers brutally honest assessment of Wolves’ affairs

Set to turn 35 in December, the ex-forward had a brief stint back in this country with union outfit Bath, also playing on the international stage in that code.

He hasn’t been involved in league here since 2009 when he departed Bradford Bulls for South Sydney Rabbitohs. Admitting that he’s lost touch with Super League since then, Burgess says he’s going to be learning on the job, but understands exactly how important it’s going to be to re-connect with the local community, who have been let down more often than not in recent times.

The new chief continued: “It’s an important of the club’s make-up, the community connection, and it’ll be no different whilst I’m here.

“It’s a huge benefit for not only the players, but the community and the staff involved, so it’ll be a big part of our off-season to grow some relationships that are already in place and just take them through the year.

“I was in Warrington maybe 18 months ago doing a couple of talks, and I could sense that there was a bit of disappointment through the town.

“Warrington deserves better. I guess that is my reasoning (for coming here), plus a bit of self belief. I know what this club’s capable of.

“If I’m totally honest, I’ve not watched a lot of Super League over the last 12 years. Obviously you’re watching the big games and at a push a couple of games a week, but ever since I got the job here, I’ve been watching three or four a week.

“You’re just so busy watching the NRL when you’re in there, and that’s a cut-throat business. I’m learning… do I know it inside out? No I don’t, but I will do by the time we get to game one.”

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