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Burgess brothers get green light
Brothers Sam and George Burgess will be able to link up with England for the start of their training camp next week after South Sydney failed to reach the NRL Grand Final.
The Rabbitohs let slip a 14-0 lead to go down 30-20 to Manly Sea Eagles in the first semi-final in Sydney on Friday.
It means the Sea Eagles will play either Sydney Roosters or Newcastle Knights in their fourth Grand Final since 2007 on Sunday week, while Souths will have to wait another 12 months for the chance to break their drought of more than four decades.
It also means the Burgess brothers will be free to fly to South Africa next Wednesday for England's high-altitude camp, which is seen as crucial preparation for the World Cup.
Sam, a regular with Great Britain and England since 2007, is sure to be included in coach Steve McNamara's 24-man squad when it is unveiled next Tuesday and could be joined by all three brothers.
George, 21, looks a strong candidate after a particularly impressive season, while twin Tom and oldest brother Luke are considered outsiders to make the squad.
McNamara will fly out with the players not involved in either the NRL or Super League Grand Finals next Wednesday, with the rest following five days later.
Canterbury Bulldogs prop James Graham, Cronulla second-rower Chris Heighington and Melbourne stand-off Gareth Widdop will also be able to make the advance party if selected after completing their club commitments.