Burns anointed Inglis’ long-term heir as Souths eye short-term fixes


While Burns is seen as the long-term centre by his teammates, the club is understood to be still keen on luring Broncos youngster Gehamat Shibasaki to the club. There have also been talks about bringing Bryson Goodwin back from Warrington.

They are likely to remain in the hunt for a big signing come 2020.

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James Roberts has also been linked to a Redfern return, but it appears there is little appetite from the club, while the player himself is also said to be sceptical about returning to the neighbourhood in which he found trouble several years ago.

Burns injured his ankle in round three and remains at least another month away from a return, but showed enough in the summer to convince Bennett to move Inglis away from his preferred left centre position.

Dane Gagai is another representative centre while Campbell Graham, who has been brilliant starting on the left wing, is also a centre by trade.

Cody Walker, Souths’ best player in the opening five rounds, defends on the left side and praised Burns.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for a young kid to step up and take Greggy’s spot,” Walker told the Herald. “You’ll never replace Greggy, it will never happen in one million years because he’s a once-in-a-generation player.

“I believe it’s Braidon Burns. He’s shown at the start of the season he’s comfortable with that position and will take it with both hands. He’s working hard to get back. He got injured and then it opened up an opportunity for ‘dog’ [Kyle Turner] and he’s done a wonderful job.”

Turner, who has since picked up the nickname ‘Tonie’ in reference to Tonie Carroll, is another backrower shifted to the centres by Wayne Bennett at Brisbane. Bennett did likewise with Matt Prior at St George Illawarra.

Plonked at centre after Burns broke down early against the Gold Coast in round three, Turner will lean on Inglis for some priceless advice in the lead-up to the Good Friday clash against Canterbury.

“I’m an honorary forward, I’m still not a centre yet,” said Turner, who was named in the No. 3 against Canterbury.

Inglis said at his packed press conference on Monday that Damien Cook teared up when he delivered the news, and the representative hooker told the Herald it was for good reason.

“I love him not just as a mate but as a fan of the game, he’s one of the greatest to ever play the game,” Cook said. “He won the Clive Churchill as a five-eighth, he’s one of the best fullbacks ever at South Sydney, and he won a Golden Boot at centre. He’ll be an immortal at some stage.

“I got watery eyes. Now I look back on it, I could see the signs the call may have been getting closer. I was telling myself it wouldn’t happen because I didn’t want it to happen.”

Cook, however, said Inglis was one of the fiercest players to come up against and was reminded of that in the middle of the MCG for his first Origin game last year.

“The first time I played against him I was with Canterbury, we were about to kick-off, I nodded at him because he was GI, I was playing against GI and I was excited, but he gave me nothing back,”  Cook said. “Even when I was his teammate last year, I ran out for my first Origin, looked out to find a familiar face, looked at ‘Gags’ [Dane Gagai], but he gave me nothing, then I looked at Greg and he gave me nothing.”

Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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