Wayne Bennett’s great Burgess experiment
TARIQ Sims faces what looms as the latest masterstroke of NRL coach Wayne Bennett - handling Sam Burgess on South Sydney's right edge.
After years dominating the Rabbitohs' middle, 116kg Burgess begins his "Edge Experiment" against St George Illawarra in the 2019 Charity Shield on Saturday night at Mudgee (Live on Fox Sports from 7pm AEDT).
The move represents one of several shake-ups to Souths attack under Bennett, who has also played the Test star in a similar role for England.
Better, the switch catapults Burgess straight into a heavyweight Charity Shield showdown with Dragons State of Origin star Sims.
"To me Sam's an ideal edge forward," Bennett said, "So I hope he enjoys playing there and makes a go of it.
"He gets a bit more room (on an edge) and with his physicality, he'll worry a few blokes out there who are tackling him.
"I've coached Sam with the English team, I used him in that role for the World Cup so it's something he has done before.
"Watching him a long time, I just think he's a lot more effective for us playing on the edge than he is in the middle."
And as for the Charity Shield showdown with Sims?
"I haven't thought about that," the coach said with a shrug. "But Sam knows how to handle the physicality. I'll leave it to him."
With Burgess moving to an edge, rising NSW Origin hopeful Cameron Murray will slip into the Bunnies' No.13 jersey.
Asked his thoughts on the rising Mascot product already being tipped for a NSW Origin jersey, Bennett said: "I haven't seen enough of him yet.
"He's a really good trainer and a very well-disciplined young man, which is great. He's really good to work with.
"His future is in front of him."
Which includes that Origin talk, right?
"Rep talk? You only need two good games and someone put puts you in a rep team," a deadpan Bennett said.
"He's a good player. It's just how good he can be now?"
Elsewhere, Bennett said halfback Adam Reynolds, still recovering from shoulder surgery, would "definitely" start the season against arch rivals the Roosters, while Greg Inglis - overcoming knee issues - was yet to be confirmed for the SCG blockbuster on March 15.
The coach did say that when Queenslander retured it would be in the centres - not fullback.
"Adam (Reynolds) will definitely start the season but GI, we're still not totally sure about him," Bennett said. "He's moving in the right direction.
"At the moment he's back running with the blokes and starting to do some ballwork with us. But we're not pushing him.
And as for playing centres?
"That's my thinking, that's where he'll come back," Bennett said.
Bennett also revealed he wanted to see the Charity Shield match stay in Mudgee beyond this year.
"I love the idea of coming out here," he said. "I love the bush, that's my background and I haven't forgotten where I've come from.
"It's always been important to me. Most of our players come from the country too so the boys are excited about coming here.
"The oval is in magnificent condition too, it's a really good set-up. Classy."