He's never played without his brothers, never averaged over 50 minutes, and never held a leadership position at South Sydney.
But Thomas Burgess is set to do all that and more if he produces more of the same as he did in a Friday's pre-season win over Parramatta.
Against an Eels line-up littered with NRL experience, the Rabbitohs fielded a squad mostly filled with reserve-graders and fringe first-graders.
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From 1908 until 1994, Australia’s first rugby league competition was ran by New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL). However, the league along with other minor premiers were re-unified to form National Rugby League in 1998. A look at some of the most memorable moments over the years.
2015 - North Queensland Cowboys vs. Brisbane Broncos
In first NRL final that ended in a draw, North Queensland claimed victory over Brisbane 17-16 in golden point extra time. It was their first premiership title. The winning goal was scored by Johnathan Thurston (R), who was awarded the Clive Churchill medal.
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(Pictured) Matthew Scott and Johnathan Thurston of the Cowboys hold aloft the premiership trophy after winning the 2015 NRL Grand Final match.
With 18-8 lead, Manly had everything under control until the last 25 minutes when Roosters made a stunning comeback to win the final for the first time since 2002. Roosters secured 26-18 victory when Michael Jennings (pictured) broke through to ground James Maloney's grubber in the last few minutes of the game.
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In one of the most controversial moment in NRL history, Bulldogs’ James Graham (R) bit the ear of Storm’s Billy Slater (L), for which the former received a 12-match ban. Storm won the final 14-4.
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2008 – Manly Warringah Sea Eagles vs. Melbourne Storm
Team Manly thrashed their opponents by the biggest ever margin (40-0) in the game’s history. The highlight of the game was Michael Robertson’s (L) hat trick tries that made him the first player to score three tries since Steve Renouf in 1997. The final also saw Steven Menzies equal Terry Lamb's record of 349 first-grade games.
In the first half of the game, Bulldogs were trailing 13-6, but in the second half they quickly covered the lead with the help of Matt Utai and Hazem El Masri. During the last few minutes of the game, Bulldogs were leading 16-13, when Roosters’ Michael Crocker (pictured) made a break on the 40m line but was tackled by Bulldogs Captain Andrew Ryan. The Bulldogs win the final 16-13.
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In the last game with Penrith, Scott Sattler made one of the greatest tackle in NRL history. It was a turning point of the game when Sattler chased down and made a tackle on the Roosters’ winger Todd Byrne (in white), sending him out of the field. Panthers won the game – 18-6.
Parramatta Eels were trailing 24-0 at high time and did everything to fight back but fell short. Knights won the final 30-24. The highlight of the match was Timana Tahu's (pictured) second-half try, where he got tangled up with Luke Burt before putting the ball down inside the chalk.
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1999 – Melbourne Storm vs. St George Illawarra Dragons
At half-time Dragons were leading 14-0 and everyone thought the game was going to end in their favor. However, Storm made a stunning comeback when Anthony Mundine knocked on over the try line that proved to be a turning point in the game. Storm quickly covered up the lead to 18-14. In the 77th minute, Brett Kimmorley bombed to winger Craig Smith but before he could ground it, Dragons’ Jamie Ainscough knocked him unconscious. The video referee gave a penalty try to Storm, which was successfully converted. Storm won the game 20-18.
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1997 – Newcastle Knights vs. Manly Warringah Sea Eagles
Newcastle Knights’ Andrew Johns helped his team reach their first final against defending champions Manly Warringah Sea Eagles. Before the final game, there were concerns about Johns’ health as he had suffered a punctured lung, however, he went ahead and played the final. Both the teams were tied at 16-all and in the final moment of the game Johns ran down a narrow blind side and slipped a pass to winger Darren Albert who successfully scored, giving the Knights a 22-16 win over Manly.
In one of the greatest final, Canberra Raiders defeated Balmain Tigers 19-14. The final witnessed Canberra’s Steve Jackson come off the bench to score his memorable try that earned his team their first premiership.
The 1975 final is best remembered for Graeme Langlands wearing white boots rather than the standard black. But the main highlight was his groin injury for which he was given a painkilling injection just before the game. Instead of reducing the pain it numbed his leg completely. Talking about the incident, he wrote in his book “Larrikin and Saint” – "It was an injection that went wrong. It wasn't the doctor's fault. The injection went in where the nerves shouldn't have been. They had moved because of all the injuries that I've had around the groin." Eastern Suburbs won 38-0.
Rabbitohs pick at Storm scab with $20k report
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(Pictured) Graeme Langlands talks to media during an NRL press conference at Sydney Cricket Ground on April 1, 2014.
1970 – South Sydney Rabbitohs vs. Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
In the 1970 final between South Sydney Rabbitohs and Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles, South’s captain John Sattler turned out to be a star player. In the opening moments of the game, Sattler suffered a double fracture of his jaw after being punched by Manly’s John Bucknall. However, he decided to continue playing and said to his teammate Mike Cleary, "Hold me up so they don't know I'm hurt." South Sydney won the final 23-12.
(Pictured) John Sattler talks to the media during a NRL Grand Final media opportunity at Rugby League Central in Sydney on Oct. 3, 2014.
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Burgess was the only player likely to make Wayne Bennett's team for round one, and he gave a glimpse of what life could be like as the Rabbitohs' pack leader.
He capped an impressive night off with a crucial second-half try.
"It's always good to get over," Burgess said.
"It was a young side obviously we had (Friday night). I was really happy to lead the boys out. I have to try and step up as a bit of a leader this year."
Former captain and brother Sam, as well as veteran John Sutton, hung up the boots, while twin George also returned home to the Super League in England.
That leaves the 27-year-old Thomas as one of their most seasoned forwards, and the English international is well aware of the role he must now play in 2020.
"I always try and lead by actions, really. But as you get a bit older, you step up a little bit and be that bit of a voice as well on the field," he said.
The extra responsibility is likely to extend to more minutes on the field.
Having never averaged more than 45 minutes in his career, Thomas punched out around 50 minutes in his first appearance of the year on Friday.
"We didn't really have a massive plan going into it. We just sort of went, 'See how it goes, see how the game goes'," he said.
"Got that stint in the first half, but I felt really good.
"I stayed out there probably a bit longer and then second half, just I think the plan was 10 minutes and then we just stayed out there."
Fifita turned down historic Souths offer: report .
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