England prop Tom Burgess will honour his great uncle and other family members who have served in the British armed services when he plays for South Sydney in Friday’s ANZAC round match against the Gold Coast Titans.
Burgess, who was the hero of Souths remarkable golden point triumph against Wests Tigers last weekend, said ANZAC Day held special significance for him even though his family were English.
“There is a great affiliation between the British and Australian services so I always feel like we are one, to be honest, and this day is just as special to me as it is for all the Aussies,” Burgess said.
“My great uncle was in the navy and I have got some other family who were in the forces over in England as well.
“I love this day and to be able to commemorate what everyone did for their country and for the people so it is great that the NRL buys into it so much.”
The Rabbitohs will wear a specially designed sky blue jersey to mark the 100th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force, while most other NRL clubs have ANZAC jerseys for the round.
In the main ANZAC Day match against St George Illawarra, the Sydney Roosters will revert to their light blue World War II jersey, which was the first to feature the red and white chevron due to a ban on striped jerseys because of the strain on supplies of colours needed for military uniforms.
Melbourne host the Warriors in the NRL’s other traditional ANZAC Day match, while Wests Tigers also play Manly on Sunday and will be looking to bounce back from the heartbreak of last weekend’s 18-14 extra time loss to Souths.
The Tigers led for most of the match but a 43 metre two-point field goal by Rabbitohs captain Adam Reynolds sent the game into overtime and Burgess raced through the opposition ruck to snatch victory – but only after Luke Brooks ran the length of the field to score at the other end.
Referee Gerard Sutton had allowed play to continue after Burgess appeared to have lost the ball over the line and Brooks picked it up and sprinted away with no defenders able to catch him.
Despite Brooks being awarded the try by Sutton, the NRL Bunker ruled that Burgess had ground the ball at the other end and Souths celebrated a great escape.
“It was a bit controversial and either they won or we won,” Burgess said. “You definitely don’t see many of them.
“People won’t forget that for a while, I don’t think. We needed those two points, they all add up during the year and last year we might have lost that game so it is a good sign for us.”
The ANZAC Round commences on Thursday with Penrith looking to extend their unbeaten run to seven matches when they take on Newcastle.
Brisbane travel to Parramatta on Friday night, while Cronulla face Canterbury and North Queensland host Canberra on Saturday, with the Raiders looking to end a two-match losing streak after disappointing performances against Penrith and Parramatta.
Canberra coach Ricky Stuart has dropped Kiwis forward Joseph Tapine, while England hooker Josh Hodgson has been ruled out for up to three weeks with a calf injury.