Rugby League World Cup 2017: England's Sam Burgess to return 'earlier than anticipated'

Sam Burgess
South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Sam Burgess was replaced in the first half and returned to the sideline wearing a leg brace
Rugby League World Cup
Venues: Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea; Dates: 27 October - 2 December
Coverage: Watch live coverage and highlights on BBC TV, Connected TV, online & the BBC Sport app and listen to live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and sports extra.

England back-rower Sam Burgess will return "earlier than anticipated" from a knee injury sustained in the World Cup opener.

The 28-year-old damaged medial knee ligaments in the first half of Friday's 18-4 defeat by Australia.

Initially he was not expected to be available before the semi-finals on 24 and 25 November.

"Sam's a tough player and he'll be doing everything to get fit again," said head coach Wayne Bennett.

"He'll be a loss, but we expect to see him back soon in the next few weeks and pushing for a place in the squad as we aim to make the quarter- and semi-finals.

"It was a blow to lose Sam so early in the game against Australia, but the team coped and competed against the number one side in the competition."

England suffered their 12th consecutive defeat against defending champions Australia in Melbourne.

They face Lebanon, the lowest ranked team in the tournament, on Saturday, 4 November, before their final group game against France on Sunday, 12 November.

The top three sides in the four-team group qualify for the quarter-finals.

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