The addition of Burgess to a new-look coaching staff would be a huge boost to a nation under pressure to keep its top-three world ranking from emerging powerhouse Tonga. The 31 year old played 24 Tests for England – as well as two for Great Britain – during a glittering career that was cut short by shoulder issues. Many of those appearances were made under current Rabbitohs coach Bennett, whose contract wasn’t renewed after the team lost all four matches of its November tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Wane has taken over after leading Wigan to a third Super League grand final in 2018 and a short stint as the high-performance coach for the Scottish Rugby Union.
Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga was hopeful Test football could continue despite the outbreak. The Australians are scheduled for their first Ashes tour of England since 2003.
“The international program at the end of the year would give supporters something to look forward to,” Meninga said. “You talk about social welfare, the good of the game and the ability to raise revenue, I would imagine we wouldn’t be losing any money on those three Ashes games in England.
“There is a reason for going to go on the Kangaroo tour aside from it being the time to do something like that – it would help market and advertise the World Cup the year after.
“I would think that would still be on the agenda if we don’t have a disruption through the year.”
While the pandemic could impact on the international calendar, NRL CEO Todd Greenberg it was too soon to determine whether Tests would be called off when he addressed the media on Thursday.
“We talked a lot about the international calendar, but no decisions have been made,” Greenberg said. “The commission has instructed all stakeholders that are impacted around international rugby league.
“As you know, there are many of those – the international board, the RFL, the NZRL, Pacific Rugby League, our broadcast partners, corporate partners who invest in international rugby league, we have deals with governments and stadiums about where we play international rugby league.
“There are a number of discussions we’re going to have to have in the weeks ahead. The commission today is focused on giving ourselves maximum flexibility to get through the season and fulfil our obligations.”
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.