SAM BURGESS did not take long to form a definitive five-word opinion about Warrington – talent is not the issue.
It has also not taken the rugby league icon months to realise getting back to basics can turn things around at the Wolves, with the hope the results will be seen from the off.
Sam Burgess admits lack of talent has not been the reason why Warrington have previously floppedWARRINGTON WOLVES
The dual code England star knows it will not be all hunky dory.
A pre-season loss to Leigh and injuries to the likes of youngster Luke Thomas have somewhat tempered the excitement.
But he knows something had to change if the Wolves are to finally end a 69-year title drought, an army camp with former elite serviceman turned TV star Ant Middleton will help.
Burgess, who conquered the NRL at South Sydney, said: “I’m still putting my finger on it but something needs to change. I’ve brought in what I think will help.
“For me, it’s about being consistent. Consistency is important and it’s about getting the basics done well. We’ve a very skilful team, so I’ve tried to bring it back a bit and get the basics done consistently well.
“Do that, you’ll be in the game much more and we’ve changed our attitude to defence – but it’s all been in practice so far and the coach is learning.
“And I could see more of the players’ character when they were under duress, you see more of the person when you strip back the egos and bravado.
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“But you can’t change a mindset overnight, it takes time. You’ve got to get a certain level of buy-in.
“I’m not disrespecting the team and what we’ve done before, or the previous coaches, but they’ve not had much success for the last few years, have they?
“And the proof will be in the pudding when we start playing games over a period of time.”
Warrington is not Burgess’ first head coaching job. He was in charge of Australian country side Orara Valley Axemen in 2022.
However, his first senior match in charge will see him go back in time as their trip to Catalans will put him against Steve McNamara, the man who blooded a teenage prodigy at Bradford Bulls.
Burgess is already making his presence felt at Warrington – before a competitive fixtureSWPIX.COM
And some of the messages he received then, also as a junior at amateur side Dewsbury Moor, still apply, even though he was essentially a ‘coaching player.’
The 35-year-old added: “You really do draw on your experiences as a player.
“When I first finished playing, I was an assistant coach under Wayne Bennett for nine months, then took some time out before going to Orara then back to Souths.
“I’ve three years of coaching experience with differing levels of responsibility and I learned during that time. A few people maybe said, ‘Take more time, do more of an apprenticeship.’
“But I didn’t wait around as a player, I don’t want to wait around as a coach either.
“As a player, I always took a keen interest in team dynamics, so I was always involved in a lot of decision making, so I’ll draw on a lot of that experience.
Warrington have made a habit if under-delivering as they chase Super League glorySWPIX.COM
“And I’m learning daily from the players, the people above me and at the side of me. There are a few people on speed dial too. I’m probably annoying them at the moment.”
Burgess still looks like he could play, a debilitating shoulder injury means there is little chance of that happening.
And he showed his fitness by running 68 kilometres during the army camp – the extra two his players went through were the coach’s call.
“For those two kilometres, they were carrying each other up and down hills, I wasn’t doing that,” he admitted.
“They jumped in the water too. Stuff that!”