Leeds Rhinos v Wakefield Wildcats: Burgess is back to add Biff

After more than four months on the sidelines, prop Luke Burgess is ready to put some biff back into Leeds Rhinos' pack.

Burgess – nicknamed Biffa – has not played since suffering a fractured jaw in the final seconds of Rhinos' engage Super League win at Castleford Tigers on August 13.

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The horrific wound kept him out of the Carnegie Challenge Cup final two weeks later, as well as Leeds Super League play-off campaign – and brought a premature end to an injury-hit season which saw Burgess make only 18 appearances, all but two off the bench.

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Now fit and raring to go, he is determined to re-establish himself as one of Leeds' first-choice props.

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"Everything is fine now," said Burgess. "I went to see my jaw surgeon about four weeks ago when I got back from off-season and he has given me the go-ahead.

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"X-rays have shown it has completely healed, so it is all good news."

Burgess also underwent surgery on a foot following his season-ending facial injury.

"I had an ankle re-co (reconstruction) as well, about a couple of weeks after I had my jaw operated on," he revealed.

"That just needed a couple of ligaments reattaching and a little bit of extra work in there. That was something I injured earlier on, in May.

"That needed looking at, so that's all fixed up and I have been in full training since we got back, so everything is fine."

Burgess insisted he has no concerns about either injury. "Not at all," he said. "I haven't even thought about it.

"The intensity has really stepped up in training and we've been doing quite a lot of high contact stuff. I've never even thought about it

once.

"It's just something you've got to get on with."

Burgess has been named in Rhinos' squad for the Boxing Day charity fixture at home to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and he is hoping the annual showdown beats the big freeze.

"Obviously I haven't had a game for a while," he said. "You always look forward to your first game back.

"It will be good to get a run out and maybe get a bit of that Christmas dinner off, that I'll be eating the day before!

"It is a game under your belt and a few more minutes in the tank. It is always going to help, the more game time you can get before the season, the better.

"I am looking at it as a stepping stone towards the start of the season."

With Jamie Peacock on the long-term injured list, all Rhinos' front-rowers will be looking to prove they can step up and fill the void.

"There's a huge gap there," Burgess admitted.

"Everyone knows how much of a role JP plays on the field.

"But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. Obviously it would be nice to fill his spot, but I will just take it as it comes and keep going week by week with pre-season training.

"We'll just see how it goes and how everyone's shaping up for the first weekend of the season, down in Cardiff."

Burgess is entering the final year of his Rhinos contract. One of his younger brothers – England international Sam – has already made a big name of himself with Aussie club South Sydney and another younger sibling, George, recently made a similar move.

Rhinos' Burgess said: "I have got another year left on my contract at Leeds and obviously that's my priority right now – to be as good as I can and to do the best I can for Leeds.

"That's something I have always wanted to do, play at my best.

"There's no hiding the fact I am interested in eventually one day going to Australia and playing some rugby out there.

"That's definitely something that's going through my mind, but probably more towards the back of my mind.

"This year ahead now is an important year for me.

"I missed quite a lot of last season, so I need to have a good year and play some more games and hopefully stay injury-free."

Burgess is not the only Rhinos player on the comeback trail.

Centre Kallum Watkins has been included in the Boxing Day squad for what would be his first full-scale game since rupturing knee ligaments away to Huddersfield Giants last March, though he did appear in

August's Carnegie 9s.

Rhinos are without Peacock, Danny McGuire, Keith Senior, Kylie Leuluai and Chris Clarkson, due to injury or post-season surgery.

Leeds Rhinos: from Webb, Smith, Delaney, Watkins, Hardaker, Sinfield, Burrow, Burgess, McShane, Cross, Hauraki, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett,Lauitiiti, Kirke, Bailey, Pitts, Jones-Bishop, Amor, Hood.

Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: Blaymire, Penny, Dean, Millard, Murphy, Jeffries, Wildie, Korkidas, Lee, Johnson, Henderson, Ferguson, Howarth. Subs Veivers, Hyde, Davey, Tony.

Referee: Jamie Leahy (Dewsbury).

Kick-off: Sunday, 11.30am.

Marco Silvestri

Leeds United: Goalkeeper Silvestri pays a fond farewell to Leeds United