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Test Rugby Caps:
37 (Wallaby No. 821)
Test Rugby Points:
Test Rugby Debut:
2008 v Ireland, Melbourne
Date of Birth:
Australian Under 21s 2004, Australian Wallabies 2008-
Hong Kong & Europe 2008, Japan & Europe 2009, Hong Kong & Europe 2010, RWC (New Zealand) 2011Australia’s fourth most capped scrumhalf, LUKE BURGESS returned to the Qantas Wallabies squad in 2014 for the first time in three years.
After initially missing squad selection for the Castrol EDGE France Tour through injury, Burgess received an opportunity to join the group when fellow scrumhalf Will Genia was ruled out of the later stages of the series through injury.
The experience he gained during this period under coach Ewen McKenzie will prove invaluable during the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship, a tournament Burgess is very familiar with having played 12 of his 37 Tests in as part of the series.
His comeback to Test Rugby came after Burgess re-joined the Melbourne Rebels late last year after a stint with four-time Heineken Cup champions, Toulouse.
Despite experiencing a tough positional battle with talented youngster Nic Stirzaker, Burgess has also returned to Australia an improved player with an increased level of physicality and knowledge of the game.
Burgess has been in fine form throughout 2014 for the Rebels and he will now look to add to the 37 Test caps he earned from 2008 – 2011.
Such is the talent of Burgess that he enjoys one of the best winning-strike rates of the current Qantas Wallabies group, winning 25 of his 37 matches.
In fact, Australia won the last seven Tests in which Burgess featured, with those matches including the 2011 Tri Nations decider against the All Blacks at Brisbane and the Bronze Final against Wales at the Rugby World Cup two-and-a-half months later.
The World Cup provided the swan-song for his four years in the Qantas Wallabies, with Burgess and his wife Emily taking up the option of what has turned out to be a two-year stint in France, plying his trade with the Top 14 heavyweights Toulouse in the country’s south.
Toulouse won the 2011-12 Top 14 with Burgess on the playing staff; beating the star-studded Toulon in the final. The club again featured in the Top 14 play-offs prior to the departure of their Australian halfback for home. Although Burgess had an option for a third year, he and his wife decided to return to Australia after the birth of their daughter Freya in November.
The couple have opted for Melbourne, resuming a link with the city that Burgess has had since he starred for the Melbourne Rebels in the sole season of the now defunct Australian Rugby Championship in 2007. The Rebels, which were a forerunner of today’s Super Rugby outfit, reached the final of that tournament, propelling Burgess onto a NSW Waratahs contract for 2008 and a Wallaby jersey later that year.
A product of Maitland, near Newcastle, and then St Joseph’s College in Sydney (the same institution that helped to mould Kurtley Beale and Brett Sheehan); Burgess failed to crack the ‘Joeys’ first XV while at school, but showed enough talent to land a contract with the Brumbies. He made his Super Rugby debut against the Hurricanes in 2005, but was restricted to just two appearances across four years for the side, being stalled behind Former Wallaby skipper George Gregan, during the tail end of his career in Canberra.
The experience with the Rebels, as well as stand out form for his club in Sydney, which saw Eastern Suburbs reach the Shute Shield Final for the first time in 16 years and Burgess secure the prestigious Ken Catchpole Medal as the competition’s best player; reignited his career.
Burgess played every match of his maiden Waratahs season, helping the ‘Tahs to only the state’s second Super Rugby final. Although NSW lost the decider in Christchurch, the then Crusaders coach Robbie Deans took notice of his performance, elevating Burgess into the Test arena for Deans’ maiden Test as Wallabies coach as Australia beat Ireland 18-12 in Melbourne.
The Test was the first of 11 in which Burgess featured during his maiden international season, although his status as Australia’s starting halfback was challenged a year later by the emergence of Will Genia. The pair are different, with Burgess of the Justin Marshall ‘style’, acting as an extra loose forward on the fringes of the rucks and mauls, while Genia is more George Gregan: smooth on the pass and quick to scoot through any gaps that are offered between tiring forwards. As such, the pair complimented each other during their three years together within the Wallaby framework, in a similar manner to which the hookers Tatafu Polota-Nau and Stephen Moore have functioned.
Just two of the last 13 Tests played by Burgess have been starting roles but both he and Genia have proven good leaders on and off the pitch, with Burgess often making telling contributions from the bench. This was most notable at Bloemfontein in 2010 when Australia won on the South African high veldt for the first time in 47 years. It was the initiative Burgess took in taking a quick tap penalty that created the opportunity for Drew Mitchell to cross before the back-pedalling Springbok defence had been able to reorganise. The try recovered the momentum for Australia in a game that swung a number of times before the Qantas Wallabies finally clinched an historic 41-39 victory.
Burgess enjoyed a similar career rise as the Former Wa