NEW ENGLAND captain Sam Burgess is using Leeds Rhinos legend Jamie Peacock as a role model.
Burgess will skipper his country for the first time when they face New Zealand at Huddersfield tomorrow in the Ladbrokes Four Nations.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs forward is following in the footsteps of Peacock, who also began his career at Bradford Bulls and went on to captain England.
Burgess identified Peacock, who is now England team manager, as a major influence on his career.
“I have been very fortunate in playing for some great captains,” said the 27-year-old, whose previous England appearance was the 2013 World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand at Wembley.
“The first one that springs to mind is JP. I have been a massive fan of Jamie’s since I was a young kid. I made my debut for Bradford against Jamie at Leeds and made my Great Britain debut with Jamie against the Kiwis at Huddersfield so it is funny we keep popping up against each other. I am now captain and he is team manager. We always seem aligned in our careers
“I have a lot of respect for him and learned a lot off him and Adrian Morley.”
Tomorrow will be a proud day for Burgess, who began playing rugby league at community level in his home town.
He said: “At Dewsbury Moor there is an honours board as you go in with players who have gone on to represent Super League clubs and I always dreamed on being put on that board, of representing a Super League club – never mind captaining my country.
“You do not think that is going to ever happen, but to be given the captaincy is a real honour and something I do with pride and will give it everything.
“I will be over the moon and sing the anthem loud and proud and get stuck in. We are certainly looking forward to it.
“Training has been ramping up in the last few days and we are pretty excited to get out there on Saturday and get to battle with the Kiwi boys.
“We all know the importance of the game. It is Test match rugby and that’s what it should be about.
“Every game should be do or die. We are preparing to get our best performance on Saturday.”