Sam Burgess ... looking forward to Saturday's match with the Bulldogs, and lining up against his former roommate James Graham. Photo: Getty Images
SAM BURGESS is looking forward to resuming hostilities with fellow Englishman and former roommate James Graham on Saturday night.
South Sydney enforcer Burgess and Canterbury's Graham clash in the preliminary final at ANZ Stadium in front of a crowd tipped to hit 70,000.
It's a return to the venue where the pair had to be separated following a heated exchange in June when the Bulldogs beat the Rabbitohs 23-18. Burgess charged at Graham after the referee had blown the whistle for an error from a restart.
Graham backed off when he heard the whistle but Burgess charged into the Bulldogs prop who responded with a shoulder and they had to be pulled apart.
''I think a lot more got made of it than what it actually was. I didn't hear a whistle and he did. It's all behind us,'' Burgess said yesterday. ''Me and James are really good friends - he was actually my roomie on the England team.
''James has had a cracking year for the Dogs. He certainly adds a lot to their side. It's always great playing the good players and the good teams.''
As if the lure of a grand final appearance on September 30 wasn't enough for the two Englishman, they also have the chance to join a select group of countrymen to have played in a decider in Australia.
Rugby league statistician David Middleton said only 19 Englishmen have played in a rugby league grand final in Australia's elite competition and only 10 have emerged winners. Adrian Morley was the last, winning the the 2002 premiership with the Sydney Roosters.
Morley joined premiership winning countrymen Dick Huddart (St George, 1966), Dave Bolton (Balmain, 1969), Malcolm Reilly (Manly 1972-73), Phil Lowe (Manly, 1976), Gary Stephens (Manly, 1976), Steve Norton (Manly, 1976), Kevin Ward (Manly, 1987), Lee Jackson (Newcastle, 1997) and Harvey Howard (Brisbane, 2000).
At least one Englishman will play on grand final day with four in action in the two qualifiers this weekend. First off the mark will be Melbourne five-eighth Gareth Widdop on Friday night against Manly at AAMI Park.
The following night there will be three Englishman battling for a place in the grand final with Canterbury's Graham not only locking horns with Sam but also his brother Luke.