NEW ENGLAND captain Sam Burgess has described his appointment as an “honour and privilege”.
The 27-year-old, from Dewsbury, will skipper his country in the Ladbrokes Four Nations tournament which begins later this month.
Burgess has not played for England since their World Cup semi-final defeat by New Zealand at Wembley three years ago.
He switched codes to join Bath and featured for England in last year’s rugby union World Cup before returning to NRL side South Sydney at the start of this season.
The former Bradford Bulls man, who came through the ranks at the Dewsbury Moor community club, succeeds Wigan’s Sean O’Loughlin, who has been ruled out of the Four Nations due to injury.
“It is an absolute honour and privilege to be asked to captain my country and to lead this group through the Four Nations tournament,” said Burgess, whose promotion was confirmed by new England coach Wayne Bennett.
“I want to thank Wayne for having the trust and belief that I can do the job and I am determined to do my best for this team.”
Burgess’ performances in the pack will be crucial to England’s hopes, but he insisted: “Although I am captain on the field for this tournament, there are a group of leaders in this squad and I know that we will work together and as hard as possible to try to achieve success on the pitch.”
Former St Helens prop James Graham – who also plays in the NRL, for Canterbury Bulldogs – was the other leading candidate.
Explaining his decision, Bennett, said: “I know the importance and pride that is placed on being captain of England.
“In Sam I believe we have got the right guy for the job whilst Sean is injured.
“He is a player and man who leads from the front and has the utmost respect from his teammates and fellow professionals.
“I know how much it means to Sam to play for his country, he is a huge player across our sport and he knows how to inspire and get the best out of people. I am certain he will do a great job as England captain.”
Burgess’ ill-fated stint in rugby union made him one of the most famous players in either code.
He inspired South Sydney to an NRL Grand Final victory before swapping sports, but was controversially fast-tracked into the England union squad and widely blamed after the hosts failed to make it past the group stage.
England – including Leeds Rhinos trio Brett Ferres, Ryan Hall and Kallum Watkins and Castleford Tigers’ Luke Gale – are currently training in London ahead of Saturday’s warm-up Test against France in Avignon.
Their Four Nation campaign begins a week later, on Saturday, October 29, when they face New Zealand in Huddersfield. England will take on Scotland at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry on Saturday, November 5, as part of a double-header which also features Australia against New Zealand. England’s final group game is against Australia on Sunday, November 13, at the London’s Olympic Stadium.
The final will be staged at Anfield, Liverpool, on Sunday November 20.