Sam Burgess has played down speculation Kevin Sinfield could join him on his coaching staff at Warrington Wolves next year, before admitting the Super League club have shown “bravery and courage” in entrusting him with his first position as a head coach.
Burgess will be Super League’s youngest coach in 2024 with the 34-year-old dual-code England international appointed at the Wolves on an initial two-year deal. Sinfield’s own future is uncertain in the aftermath of the Rugby World Cup, with suggestions he will part company with the England setup. That would lead to inevitable speculation over a return to league, where he made his name as a player.
With Burgess lacking frontline coaching experience in league, Sinfield would be seen by many as an ideal addition to his staff at Warrington as he prepares for his first role as a head coach. But Burgess appeared to stop any suggestion of a reunion with his former England teammate in its tracks at his official unveiling on Monday.
“I’ve not heard anything about that,” he said. “We’re going to catch up over a coffee but I’ve not said anything about coming to Warrington. It’s a good rumour that, it’s a good one.”
Sam Burgess captained England when they were runners-up in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup to co-hosts Australia. Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Burgess has been tasked with delivering success at one of the competition’s most ambitious and biggest-spending clubs. His hiring has been regarded as a gamble given his lack of coaching experience, with only a short stint as an assistant at NRL side South Sydney on his CV thus far, leading Burgess to admit that he was determined to show Warrington have made the right decision in appointing him as Daryl Powell’s successor.
“I think it shows bravery and courage from the people in charge,” Burgess said at his first press conference. “What’s been happening in the past hasn’t worked so sometimes you’ve got to step outside the box and try something different, and I guess that’s me. But I won’t let the guys down who’ve employed me, I’ll be committed to them and committed to the team moving forwards.”
Burgess was approached by the Wolves after they parted company with Powell, the latest in an increasing line of coaches failing to deliver a first league title to Warrington since 1955. That is despite having one of the biggest budgets in the Super League for a prolonged period and Burgess admitted on Monday that he believes he can make a difference to the town and the club, a feeling that stems back to a visit to the area on a motivational speaking tour after he retired.
“It’s an opportunity, a great opportunity,” he said. “I was in Warrington 18 months ago doing a couple of talks and sensed there was a bit of disappointment through the town and that Warrington deserves better. I guess that was my reasoning for coming, plus I have a bit of self-belief that I know what the club’s capable of. It’s a big challenge, but it’s a great challenge.”