South Sydney will have to find almost 100 more metres in their forward pack as a result of Sam Burgess' injury after the Rabbitoh made a significant mark in his first three games since returning from rugby.
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Burgess' comeback to the Rabbitohs has made a major difference as the dual international wasted little time in stamping his class upon his return to rugby league.
While Burgess was cleared of a serious neck injury during the week, he will miss the annual Good Friday clash against Canterbury at ANZ Stadium after spending two nights at St Vincent's Hospital.
Burgess feared the worse as he lay motionless on the field after diving into the Dragons' defence in the two-point loss to St George Illawarra on Sunday. Scans showed no damage to Burgess' vertebrae or spinal cord, after which Burgess tweeted he felt "extremely lucky".
Nathan Brown will wear the No.13 jersey in Burgess' absence. Back-rower Chris Grevsmuhl has been given an NRL reprieve to replace Brown on the bench.
Burgess has averaged 167 metres a game for the Rabbitohs this season, which is 95 metres more than any of the forwards who played lock for the Rabbitohs last season. South Sydney struggled to replace Burgess, using six locks including Chris McQueen, Kyle Turner, Ben Lowe and Jason Clark.
Aside from his mammoth running metres, Burgess has touched the ball 21.3 times a game compared with 11.2 last season by the Rabbitohs' No.13.
While Burgess may have started the first game at prop, he has settled back into the lock role. His numbers have also been hindered by his injury last week when he was restricted to just 52 minutes.
Other areas where Burgess has dominated this season include:
- Averaging 17 hit-ups a game compared with 9.2 last season by the Rabbitohs' No.13;
- Four offloads each game, compared with 0.3;
- 4.7 passes compared with 1.5.
Burgess is expected to recover in time for the Rabbitohs' round-five game against Manly. The Rabbitohs were given a boost when back-rower Paul Carter was cleared by the NRL judiciary to play against the Bulldogs.
While Burgess has indicated he may want to play, Bulldogs coach Des Hasler said it would be unlikely the Englishman took his place on Friday.
"You never know, [Burgess] is obviously dedicated enough but I think duty of care will take precedence," Hasler said. "I don't think he'll take the field. But I think young Carter getting off, that helps them quite a bit, he's been playing some good footy.
"They've been playing really up the middle and grafting and grinding away and we don't expect that to change too much whether Sam's there or not."