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Sam Burgess: ‘World’s best’ return great for England, says Wigan’s Liam Farrell

Sam Burgess

Sam Burgess was a key figure for England in the 2013 World Cup, before his switch to rugby union

Sam Burgess’ return to England’s squad for the Four Nations is a lift as he is among the world’s elite, says international team-mate Liam Farrell.

The back-rower returned to South Sydney Rabbitohs for 2016 and played 23 games, scoring five tries in the NRL.

Burgess left rugby union side Bath last November, after England’s disappointing union World Cup campaign.

“You can’t not miss a player of Sam’s calibre, rugby league is where he belongs,” Farrell told BBC Sport.

“To play rugby union and put pressure on himself, is something I admire but he’s one of the best in the world and it’s great to have him back.”

Before his exit, Burgess’ performances put him among the league code’s elite, winning a premiership with Souths in 2014 and the personal honour of the Clive Churchill Medal in the Grand Final.

A Burgess family reunion

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Farrell (centre in white) is part of a squad taken from both Super League and the NRL

Sam links up with brothers Thomas and George in the England squad, along with fellow NRL-based Englishmen James Graham, Josh Hodgson, Elliott Whitehead and Gareth Widdop.

Farrell, who won Super League’s Grand Final with Wigan on Saturday, is joined by team-mates John Bateman, George Williams and Gold Coast Titans-bound Dan Sarginson for the tournament which starts on 28 October.

“I’m very excited, it’s a fresh squad,” Farrell continued. “It’s a bunch of lads coming together from Super League and the NRL and it’ll be very special.”

The 26-year-old capped his year with the Harry Sunderland Trophy in the Grand Final win against Warrington,

“I’m proud because I’ve had a tough year, I didn’t think I’d be involved, I was out injured and only played 10 games or so I’m proud to be in.”

Good balance in squad

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Wayne Bennett will take his first England game in charge against France in Avignon on 22 October.

Brisbane Broncos head coach Bennett was appointed in the England role in February, replacing the out-going Steve McNamara.

The ‘Supercoach’ who has won premierships with Brisbane and St George Illawarra in the NRL, was selected ahead of home-based candidates Shaun Wane, Daryl Powell and Keiron Cunningham.

Wane, who was then linked with a post in Bennett’s coaching staff, is impressed by the pool selected for the forthcoming tournament and the fact most of the players were born in England.

“I’m really glad they’ve done that,” Wane added. “It’s a true England team and I’d have picked pretty much the same.

“There’s a good balance in the squad and some really good players who are all in form.

“I don’t think anyone could argue about selections in that team.”