FORMER Cornish Pirates flanker Phil Burgess compared going to the Commonwealth Games to fulfilling a childhood dream.
The 26-year-old has been chosen as one of the 12 members of the England squad who will compete in the rugby 7s competition at the games in Glasgow, which begin today with the opening ceremony at Celtic Park.
Burgess, who played at Mennaye Field for four seasons, became a central contracted 7s player for the national side a year ago and has gone on to feature in tournaments across the globe.
Fixtures will be played at Ibrox Stadium on Saturday and Sunday with England, who also feature ex-Redruth star Mark Bright in their team, in Pool D with Australia, Sri Lanka and Uganda.
Looking ahead to the games, Burgess believes it will top off a good year.
Burgess said: “The last 12 months have been really enjoyable.
“It was nerve-racking as I was going into something new and also the coach who signed me then left not long after.
“But 7s is a great game and I’ve been fortunate to have gone on all the tours in the season.
“You feel proud when you put on an England jersey, wherever you play.
“But to know I’ll be wearing it at a big multi-sport even representing my country with so many other athletes is a childhood dream, as they are special occasions.”
He went on to say England are targeting a podium finish at the games, having finished fourth overall in the 7s World Series last year.
New Zealand, who have won gold at all four of the games since the sport was brought into the event in 1998, are once again the bookies’ favourites to retain their title.
“We know there are some strong teams in the draw, especially from the Southern Hemisphere,” said Burgess.
“But 7s is such an open game and it only takes an odd bounce of a ball to go your way or an injury to a player or two to change the end result.
“But you have to set goals in this sort of event to aim for medals even with the calibre of teams involved in the games.
“We have beaten all the big teams this year at some point so we are confident, but we have to take each game as it comes.
“In 7s, it is about getting through the first day and making sure we win the games, as we don’t want to become a team making headlines for the wrong reasons by being beaten in a shock result.”
Whether he finds himself receiving a medal or not come Sunday, the forward said he will looking to make the most of the experience of competing at the games.
Burgess said: “Four of the squad were involved at the last games and we have been speaking to them about what to expect and the different types of distractions.
“We’re used to sharing a hotel with 16 other teams.
“But this time we’ll be in the Athletes Village with thousands of other athletes taking part.”
“But life is all about trying new things and taking in these experiences, so that is something I’ll be looking to do.”