George Burgess of the Rabbitohs is tackled by Raymond Faitala-Mariner (left) and Josh Reynolds of the Bulldogs.
George Burgess of the Rabbitohs is tackled by Raymond Faitala-Mariner (left) and Josh Reynolds of the Bulldogs. DAN HIMBRECHTS

Burgess opens up on his year of frustration

IT was something George Burgess had never experienced before, and it frustrated him.

The South Sydney star was in the midst of his first season dogged by injury and it ended up limiting him to 17 appearances - the lowest since a handful of games in his debut season in 2012.

Even when he was able to play, he produced nothing like the impact fans had come to expect from the bombarding Brit.

The most challenging period of his career began when he needed to undergo hip surgery at the end of 2015.

"I needed to get hip cartilage repaired. I had a labrum hip tear for a number of years so I had that fixed and a lot of stuff cleaned out, early arthritis and all that stuff," Burgess said.

"It takes a while to adjust to, and recovery from surgery like that can take up to 18 months. I'm starting to feel the effects now, it's a learning process."

Then midway through the season, his groin muscle failed him, so he needed to go under the knife again and subsequently missed two months of football.

"I had the other surgery during the year as a result of compensating for the other injury for so long," Burgess says.

"When you're dealing with an injury for a while, your body starts to overcompensate in other areas so when you go and fix it, you get other problems because of it.

"I'd never had surgeries before that, so that was a first for me in terms of dealing with that and the recovery process.

"It's tough for any athlete. A lot of it's mental."

Burgess burst on to the scene in 2013 and was named Dally M rookie of the year. He continued that rich vein of form into the following season when he helped the Rabbitohs end their 43-year premiership drought.

In that title-winning season, Burgess posted career-high game averages of 51 minutes, 15.1 runs and 140 metres.

In 2016 the numbers painted the picture of a man struggling: 38 minutes, 8.8 runs and 88 metres per game.

"It definitely did get to me at some points last year, especially when you're trying to play through the pain and your body's not doing what you want it to or what you expect of it," Burgess admitted.

"It can get really frustrating at times and it starts to get to you in some ways but those are the challenges you have as an athlete in the type of competition that we're playing in."

The good news for Rabbitohs fans is the England international can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

"I think I've come through it in good shape now, so I'm just looking forward to the year now and seeing what we can do," he said.

"I wouldn't say I'm 100%, I don't think any rugby league player is.

"I just have to keep working hard at training and my recovery, working with the physios and doctors.

"We've got such great staff at our club so I just need to work hard with those guys and get my body right."