New St Helens recruit Wesley Bruines has revealed his epic rugby league journey so far including how Sam Burgess helped him on his path to Super League.
Bruines made the bold decision to move Down Under with a friend as an 18-year-old following two-years at Wakefield, featuring in their academy.
He was offered a contract with the side’s reserves team, but instead opted to take his chances in Australia, moving to Coffs Harbour.
Described as a “mad” journey by Bruines himself, the now 19-year-old revealed that days after arriving, he met Burgess who helped him with a move to South Sydney Rabbitohs’ development team as well as offering him a place to live.
Wesley Bruines reveals epic rugby league path involving Sam Burgess
“It’s a bit of a mad story. I landed in Coffs Harbour on a Thursday and on the Saturday morning I was training for a rep side, equivalent to a Yorkshire team,” Bruines told Love Rugby League.
“I played a couple of games and a month later I had signed with South Sydney Rabbitohs Under-21s playing Jersey Flegg. Personally, I didn’t expect that. I was going to play a year countryside and go from there. It all happened within two months.”
Explaining his journey, Bruines continued: “I met Sam Burgess on my second day in Australia. Both being from Dewsbury, he sort of took me under his wing. He got in touch with a few people and he looked after me.
“He moved me to Sydney and the next thing I know, I’m making my debut for the Under-21s.
“I could not believe it. Sam Burgess is Sam Burgess, a living legend. It was like a dream. Sometimes I had to pinch myself to see if it was happening. It was surreal.”
Bruines: Pulling on a Souths jersey was one of the best things of my life
Burgess somewhat acted as an agent for the outside-back in Australia, having sent his clips to his former club. The 24-capped England international even offered a room in his apartment for the youngster, who worked as a landscaper while in the country.
“He said to me don’t get an agent, I’ll look after you if anything comes up,” Bruines said on Burgess.
“Sam took me into his place and looked after me there for a couple of months. I was living in his apartment. He knows a lot of people at South Sydney and sent a highlight clip over for me.
“They were keen to get me down which was overwhelming at the time, especially having only been there for three months.
“I came late into the season. I missed pre-season but trained a lot on my own anyway and stayed fit. A couple of weeks of training and I made my debut and played every game since.
“It was unreal. Pulling on a Souths jersey was one of the best things of my life.”
Bruines went on to make nine appearances in the competition, and joins St Helens on a one-year deal ahead of the 2023 Super League campaign, having previously rejected a move to their academy as a youngster.
“It’s been unbelievable” – Wesley Bruines
“My dad came over half way through my journey in Australia and when he left I started getting homesick, which I never thought would happen to me,” he continued.
“I was speaking to Sam asking what I should do and he got me in touch with an agent who I was working quite close with anyway but never signed with.
“I signed with him in my last couple of weeks in Australia. We had a couple of options around, but when Saints came in, it was a no-brainer.
“The last year has been crazy. When I came back, I was living with family but now I’ve started training I’ve moved over with Tee Ritson. By chance, we both have the same agent so they put us in a house together.
“We’ve been proper looked after by Mike Rush (St Helens CEO). It’s been unbelievable.”