Burgess wants injured O'Loughlin to lift trophy
Stand-in skipper Sam Burgess says injured captain Sean O'Loughlin will lift the trophy if England upset Australia to win the Rugby League World Cup final.
A quad tear has ruled O'Loughlin out of Saturday's tournament decider in Brisbane, where NRL star Burgess will lead Wayne Bennett's team against holders and favourites Australia.
Beating the Kangaroos at Suncorp Stadium would be a huge coup for England and, while it remains to be seen if they can indeed stun the co-hosts, Burgess wants the sidelined Wigan Warriors man to stay involved.
"It's unfortunate for Sean, who has been a huge part of our success in this," the South Sydney Rabbitohs player said.
"He's a fantastic player to have in the team so it's obviously a huge loss."
As for the honour of stepping in for O'Loughlin, Burgess added: "It's fantastic for me. It's a job I don't take lightly. I love being in this position.
"I don't think it gets much better than the World Cup final and it will be a special moment, although it's kind of bitter-sweet if I'm honest.
"Sean has been captain the whole tournament and he'll lift the trophy if we get to that situation."
England assistant coach Denis Betts feels O'Loughlin deserves plenty of respect for standing aside rather than trying to play through the injury and potentially hamper the team's chances.
"It's not nice for him," said Betts.
"He obviously wants to be involved in this game as captain of the team.
"We've given him every chance and he's given himself every chance by working really hard with our medical team.
"He pushed himself as hard as he possibly could but the final decision probably came to Lockers himself. He knows his body, he knows when he's ready to play in this kind of game.
"It might have been the easiest thing to do to bite down on his gum shield and get out on the field but he's made a real brave call. He's not right and he's decided to not be in the team.
"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, World Cup finals don't come around too often and it was a real tough decision for Sean and the medical team."
Betts, though, is confident Burgess is equipped to guide his team-mates in such an important match.
"We have to move on," he said.
"Sam led the side last year in the Four Nations, he's a doer, he's a leader, he's captain of his club.
"It's always been that natural progression that, if something happened to Lockers, that Sam would take that role on."