George Burgess is taking every game he plays as a challenge to prove his worth not only to South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett and the Rabbitohs but to any other club interested in his services after this season.
The powerhouse prop, who is resigned to being squeezed out of Redfern at season’s end and leaving behind brothers Sam and Thomas, will be the only Burgess on the field at ANZ Stadium when the Rabbitohs face Penrith on Saturday night.
Sam is sidelined after shoulder surgery last week and is expected to miss two games and George’s twin Thomas is serving a one-week suspension for his role in a melee against Newcastle last weekend, meaning the Rabbitohs will be without two key cogs of the engine room.
“I’m going to have to do all the work this week, won’t I?” George Burgess said.
Unlike his brothers, who are both locked up at South Sydney until the end of 2023, George is off-contract at the end of the season.
But while most NRL players are keen to have their futures sorted out quickly, the 27-year-old is willing to bide his time and wait until October before making a decision.
He had the opportunity to secure his future long-term at Parramatta but knocked back a big-money, four-year offer in January to stay at Redfern and see out the remainder of his deal.
“My mindset is to play at the minute and get my best football on the park,’’ Burgess said. “I’ll give myself up until October if I have to.”
Burgess has attracted plenty of interest from rival NRL clubs as well as the English Super League.
“I’ve got to keep playing and put myself in the shop window for this club or other clubs,” he said.
“And if they want to think about having you for a longer term, then you have to put your best football on the park.”
The Rabbitohs will be looking to end a two-game losing streak against a confident Panthers, who are coming off three consecutive wins.
Burgess refused to blame South Sydney’s recent run of poor form on the mounting injury toll, which also includes losing halfback Adam Reynolds to a fractured back.
“We expect the guys coming in to do the job,” Burgess said.
“I think we have been making too many unforced errors and it’s killing us.
“We are giving away penalties, too, and we are making it hard for ourselves.”