Sam Burgess pays ultimate compliment to in-form Warrington Wolves prop: ‘First name on teamsheet’

Drew Darbyshire
James Harrison Sam Burgess Warrington Wolves Alamy

James Harrison (left) of Warrington Wolves and head coach Sam Burgess (right)

Warrington Wolves coach Sam Burgess says he ‘can’t speak highly enough’ of James Harrison following the in-form prop’s start to 2024.

England international Harrison has emerged as a real leader in the Burgess’ pack this season, and has fronted up in recent weeks in the absence of fellow front-rowers Paul Vaughan (suspension), Zane Musgrove (injury), Joe Philbin (head knock) and Ben Currie (injury).

Burgess has paid the ultimate compliment to Harrison, who has been an ever-present so far for Warrington in 2024.

“I can’t speak highly enough of Jimmy,” Burgess told Love Rugby League. “I think I’ve said before that he’s the first name on the teamsheet every week nearly.

“He’s in that group of players that you hang your hat on. He’s consistent, he really has grown in the last couple of weeks. He’s started to find himself in his position in the team and what he brings.

“Above all else, he’s a quality bloke and is from great stock, his dad (Karl) was an unbelievable player, I used to love watching his dad play so there’s no surprise that Jimmy shares all of those same attributes.

“Sometimes I look at him and I’m just not sure how he’s getting the job done, he’s not your typical front-rower looking type of bloke is he? But he’s just ferocious out there and he’s getting the rewards he deserves. He’s scored a couple of tries and he’s putting himself in some good positions.”

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James Harrison a good example to aspiring rugby league players, says Sam Burgess

Harrison took a slightly unfamiliar route into the professional game. He spent time in Huddersfield Giants‘ scholarship system before coming through the academy at Bradford Bulls.

But he didn’t make his professional debut for the Bulls. It was at part-time Championship side Batley Bulldogs where he honed his craft, playing 58 games for the club over three seasons between 2016 and 2018.

The 27-year-old then went on to spend the next three seasons with Championship heavyweights Featherstone Rovers, and got his first taste of Super League in 2020 during a short loan spell with Leeds Rhinos.

But it is at Warrington where he has really found his feet, earning his England debut in the process.

“Often some players come the hard route through and generally get a longer, more successful career because they understand the privilege of being at this level and they understand the hard work side of the game,” Burgess added. “They generally become great professionals.

“You see a lot more of it over in Australia because there are more avenues for them to play at a great level, so Jimmy is a great example, not only for players who are probably not cracking it at 19, 20, 21 – but he’s a great example for other pros around here that are working hard consistently to stay at it and make a career out of it.”

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