Burns comes back for Devils
LAST year’s grand final-winning Mal Meninga medallist, Darren Burns, is set to come out of retirement and once again play for the Gympie Devils.
Burns indicated his willingness to lace up the boots for the Devils yesterday but said he wouldn’t run on for the injury plagued outfit until June 26 because of personal commitments.
Its great news for Devils fans and coach John Greensil, who have seen the last year's Sunshine Coast/Gympie rugby league premiers limp through the first part of the Sunshine Coast/Gympie rugby league season notching only three wins because of a mounting injury toll.
The 38-year-old said his main motivation for returning to the Devils was to play in the same team as 17-year-old Jake Harney.
Burns has been one of Harney’s mentors as he has grown through the ranks at the Gympie Devils.
“When I first came to town Jake was only 12,” Burns said.
“I helped get him into the Broncos when he was 13, coached him and now he is one of my trainees.”
Burns said this may be his last chance to play a game of league with Harney, depending on what the Year 12 Gympie High School student does next year when he finishes his schooling.
“It may be the only chance I get to play footy with Jake,” Burns said.
The other reason Burns said he was willing to come out of retirement was to help the Devils through their injury woes.
The Devils have lost close to 11 players with major injuries this year including props Kurt Fleming and Brad English along with fullback Josh Williams.
Coach John Greensil said Burns' return to the team was great news for Gympie’s rugby league fans.
He said Burns' experience at NRL level playing for Western Suburbs, South Sydney, Sydney Roosters and the Brisbane Broncos was invaluable for the team.
“He gives the boys confidence just by being on the field,” Greensil said.
“He is a calming influence.
“When the boys get flustered he settles them down, he leads the way and controls things.
“It is a huge boost for the team.”
Burns announced his retirement when the Devils won their first Sunshine Coast/Gympie rugby league grand final last year.
He scored two tries and won the Mal Meninga Medal for the best player on the field.
Burns said he hasn’t missed playing league, but did say he missed training with the boys.