30 October 2023

Sam Burgess hopes to bring ‘fresh approach’ to get Warrington back on track

30 October 2023

Sam Burgess wants to get Warrington back on track after his surprise appointment as head coach but the former dual-code England international insisted he is “not coming here to blow this place up”.

Burgess will become Super League’s youngest head coach after it was announced in August he would take charge of the Wolves from the start of the 2024 season, having put pen to paper on a two-year contract.

He has no experience in the top job but, since the end of a distinguished playing career in 2019, Burgess has been assistant at South Sydney Rabbitohs and is relishing the challenge of what lies ahead.

Warrington have been off-the-pace in the last couple of seasons and although Burgess believes he can succeed where Daryl Powell failed, the 34-year-old ruled out making wholesale alterations at the club.

“The biggest challenges are internally,” he said on Monday. “It’s not huge, drastic changes, I’m not coming here to blow this place up, I’m coming here to make them better.

“I like it when people say that (he has never been a head coach before), that’s what makes it exciting for me. It’s going to be a great challenge, don’t get me wrong and we’ve got a lot of work to do.

“It’s about being authentic. I’m not going to sit here and pretend I’m Wayne Bennett, I’m my own style of coach, I’ll learn and listen but I’ll also follow my instincts with the way I want to coach.

“I’ve had a bit of experience, I think that stands in my favour as well and I’m not trapped in any old way of doing things. I have a fresh mind, fresh approach and a fresh relationship with the players.”

It was difficult leaving (Australia) in some respects but I'm super excited about the opportunity here. I think the pros outweigh the cons, I've just got to get used to the weather again

Burgess made a name for himself in the NRL with the Rabbitohs – co-owned by Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe – with whom the Englishman had two stints in-between a spell at rugby union outfit Bath.

Most famously, Burgess led the Rabbitohs to NRL glory in 2014, winning the Clive Churchill medal as the Grand Final man of the match despite playing with a broken cheekbone.

Burgess, who represented England 24 times in rugby league and on five occasions in rugby union, accepts it was a bold call to appoint him head coach but he is bullish he can reward the Warrington hierarchy.

“It shows bravery and a bit of courage from the people in charge,” he said. “What’s been happening in the past hasn’t worked so sometimes you’ve got to step outside the box and try something different.

“I was in Warrington maybe 18 months ago doing a couple of talks and I could sense there was a bit of disappointment through the town. I think Warrington deserves better.

“One thing I won’t do is I won’t let the guys down who have employed me. If this place is in a better position from when I arrive to when I move on, then that’s success to me.

“It’s a great club, some passionate people involved. You can see why the club is in a great position. It needs a bit of work in the playing department and that will be my focus.”

Burgess began his playing career at Bradford before leaving for Sydney in 2010 and admitted his preoccupation with the NRL in recent years means he has not kept as much of an eye on Super League.

But he added: “Ever since I got the job I’ve been watching three or four games a week. Do I know it inside out? No, I don’t but I will do by game one.

“It was difficult leaving (Australia) in some respects but I’m super excited about the opportunity here. I think the pros outweigh the cons, I’ve just got to get used to the weather again.”

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