Burgess rocked by shoulder injury
Luke Burgess' hopes of lining up alongside brother Sam in England's 2013 World Cup team have been dealt a body blow.
The South Sydney and former Leeds prop will miss most of the NRL season after suffering a serious shoulder injury in a training mishap.
The Englishman underwent surgery on Wednesday to repair damage to the labrum and capsule in his shoulder, and will not return to action for at least six months.
"This is definitely a setback for Luke but he takes a highly professional approach to his football and we know he will do everything he can to return as early as he can," Souths coach Michael Maguire said.
"We have a good team of medical staff and trainers here at Souths and they will make sure that 'Biffa' returns in top shape.
"This development opens up an opportunity for other props to gain a spot in the team for round one and the competition for spots, including the front row, is hot at the moment."
The injury could improve the chances of Burgess' younger brothers George and Tom gaining first-grade action this season.
Tom left Bradford at the end of last season to follow Sam, Luke and his 20-year-old twin George to the famous Sydney club.
Luke Burgess was called into England coach Steve McNamara's squad for the 2012 autumn internationals as a replacement for the suspended James Graham and went on the high-altitude training camp to South Africa, but was not used for any of the three matches.
Sam missed that series through injury but will be an automatic World Cup selection, as long as he is fit.
Meanwhile, there is mounting speculation that Souths' former Warrington centre Matt King is considering retirement.
He is making a slower-than-expected return from a broken arm sustained in last year's finals series.
An infection halted his recovery and he is racing against time to be right for the season kick-off in early March.