George Burgess says playing for Great Britain would be career highlight
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 05/03/19 10:02am
England international George Burgess says it will be the pinnacle of his career if he gets the chance to play for Great Britain in the autumn.
The return of the Lions was announced on Monday and the itinerary for their four-match tour of the southern hemisphere was unveiled at a launch in Auckland, where Burgess represented the Rugby Football League.
Britain, reformed after a 12-year absence, will take on Tonga at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on October 26.
Waikato was the venue for Tonga's historic victory over New Zealand in the group stages of the 2017 World Cup and another bumper crowd will be expected for the visit of the Lions.
Wayne Bennett's men will then go on to play a two-Test series against the Kiwis - the first at Auckland's Eden Park on November 2 and the second at Christchurch Stadium on November 9.
They will end the tour with a Test against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby on November 16.
"I grew up watching the Lions and it was a proud moment for our family when Sam debuted in 2007," said South Sydney prop Burgess.
"Who would have thought it would be another 12 years until we see them again? I'm just glad it's come around while I'm still playing.
"To pull that jersey on would definitely be the pinnacle of my career, it's something I've dreamt about as a kid."
The inaugural two-division Oceania Cup was also unveiled at Eden Park, which will play host to a triple-header on November 2 with Australia taking on Tonga and Samoa playing Fiji.
Papua New Guinea are the other Division Two team battling for promotion to the top flight in 2020.
"The Pacific nations are really emerging," said Burgess.
"You've seen with Tonga how they have come on in leaps and bounds in the last few years and I think Fjii, Samoa and Papua New Guinea are all looking to take the next step in this competition.
"It's a big stage for them. It's going to be great for international rugby league."
The Oceania Cup will kick off on June 22 when the Kiwis host Tonga in Auckland while Samoa play Papua New Guinea and Fiji face the Cook Islands at Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney.
Australia's first match will be against New Zealand in Wollongong on October 25.
Rugby League International Federation southern hemisphere general manager Jeremy Edwards said: "This international programme is both exciting and ground-breaking and it is great to see the Great Britain Rugby League Lions following in the historic footprints of previous tours.
"The Oceania Cup is an important step in creating a full international calendar that fans, players and commercial partners can enjoy.
"It has taken a huge amount of work to deliver this and I commend the efforts of all those who have brought us to this point. It is a great platform for the international game in the Asia Pacific Region."