South Sydney Rabbitohs prop Tom Burgess trained with two separate NFL clubs in two days fuelling speculation that he is aspiring for a Jarryd Hayne style move over to the NFL.
The news first came via American NFL insider Adam Schefter who said that Burgess had worked out with the New York Giants as a tight end last Thursday. Fox Sport later quoted Giants punter and Australian native, Brad Wing, who said that a rugby player was present at the training session. It was common knowledge that Burgess was in the US and both his Twitter and Instagram account show happy snaps from the trip.
Other player the Giants worked out today: TE Tom Burgess. An English rugby star. Could he be the next Jarryd Hayne?
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) December 3, 2015
Beautiful day for it! pic.twitter.com/MGxhyp1mpr
— Thomas Burgess (@Thomas_Burgess) December 6, 2015
Had it confirmed by the @Giants that Tom Burgess "worked out" with them today. Has been out there since Tuesday.
— Wayne Gardiner (@mrwayneg) December 3, 2015
However, many news agencies are also citing a press association report which claims that the following day Burgess also trained with the Buffalo Bills. Whilst the initial assumption was that Burgess would also be training as a tight end, sports journalist Sal Capaccio has claimed that the Bills and other teams may be interested in him as a defensive linesman.
Also on Burgess. Reports say he's trying out as a TE. I'm told Bills and other teams may see him as a DL. He's 6-5, 265.
— Sal Capaccio (@SalSports) December 4, 2015
Burgess recently signed a contract extension with the Rabbithos which keeps him at the club until 2018. However, there was speculation prior that he was only interested in short term contracts because he had received interest from NFL clubs.
News.com.au quotes Burgess from back in May who said he was interested in a move over to the NFL, but he had not spoken to anyone officially about the idea. However, by Burgess training with several sides it is likely to increase speculation that he will leave the Rabbithos if an opportunity arises.
According to a statement from the South Sydney Rabbithos, “Burgess has been given the opportunity to develop his skills by participating in NFL training during his off-season break.” The same statement also quotes Rabbithos Head Coach, Michael McGuire, who described the experience as an opportunity for Burgess to improve his “speed, strength and agility.”
At 196cms and 120kgs, Burgess is the right size and shape to play as a tight end or on the defensive line, and his explosive speed will also be looked upon positively by NFL scouts. However, Burgess’ ball skills may prove problematic with the size and shape of the NFL ball increasing the degree of difficulty required to catch and protect it. This was an issue which affected Jarryd Hayne who fumbled 3 time in 6 games with the San Fransisco 49ers. Likewise, Burgess has been described by Fox Sports as one of the most frustrating players in the NRL due to his inconsistent performances.
Tom Burgess has upside at the position due to his size & athleticism but hands will be an issue. 17 errors in 24 games in the NRL. #Giants
— Woot and Wye NFL (@WootandWye) December 3, 2015
As well as Jarryd Hayne, Burgess would be following in the footsteps of Australian born Hayden Smith who left English rugby union club Saracens FC and played five games with the New York Jets as a tight end between 2012 and 2013.