- 821Wallaby Number
Luke Burgess was yet another halfback in the long line of Wallaby No.9s to have been born and bred in the Hunter region of New South Wales. Burgess played juniors for the Maitland Blacks until U12s before he set off for high school at the venerable rugby nursery of St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill. Notably, Burgess did not win selection into the schools’ fabled 1st XV. Nonetheless he was clearly deemed good enough to win a contract with the ACT Brumbies in 2003.
Burgess made his Super Rugby debut in 2005 against the Hurricanes however he managed just two caps over four years (2003-07) due to the presence in the squad of Wallaby captain George Gregan.
His big break came during the 2007 Australian Rugby Championship. He starred for the Melbourne Rebels in their run to the final and on the back of that form picked up a contract with New South Wales for 2008. Burgess played every match of his maiden Waratahs season and helped the side reach the Super Rugby final. Burgess then followed in the footsteps of fellow Novocastrian Wallabies and halfbacks Syd Malcolm, Cyril Burke, John Hipwell and Dom Vaughan (as well as Singleton’s Steve Merrick) when he made his Test debut against Ireland in Melbourne.
A constant attacking threat who at times played like a ninth forward, Burgess won 37 Test caps over his four year Wallaby career. Notably Australia won the last seven Tests in which Burgess featured, including the 2011 Tri Nations decider against the All Blacks at Brisbane and the Bronze Final against Wales at the Rugby World Cup.
Selected in the Australian squad for the third-annual IRB U21 Rugby World Championships in Scotland.
Burgess won his first Test cap when selected at No.9 in the 18-12 victory over Ireland in Melbourne. He won a total of 11 caps, all as the starting halfback, although he missed three games of the Tri-Nations tournament due to a knee injury.
Burgess earned a further 10 Test caps, seven of which were won in the run-on XV, however by season end his great rival Will Genia had become the incumbent Wallaby No.9.
The Genia rivalry continued although Burgess remained a core component of the Wallaby match day 22. He won 11 caps, four in the run-on XV, from the season’s 15 internationals. Burgess made a telling contribution off the bench in the Wallabies’ historic victory over South Africa in Bloemfontein. Trailing 31-36 at the 72nd minute mark, Burgess took a quick tap penalty that created the opportunity for Drew Mitchell to score under the posts and claw his side back into the contest. Australia went on to record their first win at altitude since 1963.
In his final season of Wallaby representation Burgess picked up five Test caps although just one, against Russia in the Rugby World Cup pool match at Nelson, came as the starting halfback.