Citizen Burgess powerless

Aussie-in-waiting: Sam Burgess training with the Rabbitohs. Photo: Sahlan HayesSouth Sydney’s English-born enforcer Sam Burgess has missed by six months any chance of representing NSW in the State of Origin – but he could still play for the Kangaroos.

Burgess, 24, gave what seemed to be an indication he would one day add his trademark starch to the NSW pack when he declared ”I’m a New South Welshman” before he trained with the Rabbitohs at Redfern Oval on Tuesday. The reason his apparent pledge of allegiance to the Blues resonated was because he’s in the throes of applying for Australian citizenship.

While Burgess tried to hose down the notion he wanted to play Origin, the gleam in his eyes when he spoke about it suggested he was keen to compete in rugby league’s greatest showpiece.

”Everyone’s thinking it’s for different things,” said Burgess on his motive to become an Aussie. ”But it’s purely for the fact when my career does come to an end, I can stay in this country.

”I’m going through the stages [of citizenship] now … I started the ball rolling last year; just need to get it all finished up.”

It seems Burgess’ dealings with the Immigration Department should be more seamless than his playing for the Blues after tough eligibility rules were introduced to end the debates concerning the legitimacy of NSW born-and-bred Greg Inglis and Israel Folau, along with Kiwi Test players Tonie Carroll and Craig Smith, being claimed by Queensland and, in more recent times, NSW poaching James Tamou from New Zealand.

The Origin rules, which were amended in December, state a player must have lived in NSW or Queensland before their 13th birthday to play, while for someone born overseas, such as Burgess, they must have been elected to play for Australia before December 2012.

”The commission was very keen to ensure the concept of the State of Origin remained as a game between NSW and Queensland,” NRL spokesman Andrew Hill said. ”Tightening up the eligibility rules was to go towards ensuring the state versus state, mate versus mate concept was protected.”

The rule means Burgess’ brother George, who moved to Sydney when he was 16 years old, and has made a mighty impression at Souths this season, won’t get a shot at Origin.

However, Burgess, as an Australian citizen, could be eligible to wear the green and gold – if he wanted.

While he would not be drawn into that scenario, Burgess was pleased to call Australia ”home”.

”I love the competition, I love the NRL,” he said. ”I love the lifestyle in Australia, it certainly offers a great deal. All my family is here now; my brother Luke just had a little girl, his family is here now. I just feel really comfortable.”

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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