ENGLAND are hoping former Bulls player Sam Burgess will be back from injury earlier than originally anticipated.

The South Sydney forward was helped from the field with knee medial ligament damage 35 minutes into his side's 18-4 defeat by Australia in their opening World Cup match in Melbourne on Friday.

England coach Wayne Bennett initially said he expected Burgess to be sidelined for three or four weeks but a spokesman updated that information over the weekend.

He said: "Following a further review of the injury, England medical staff and specialists can confirm Burgess will be back in the playing squad earlier than anticipated."

Bennett was delighted with the way his side coped in the absence of Burgess in the second half at AAMI Park but his likely availability will be welcomed as England eye a potential quarter-final with Papua New Guinea, followed by a semi-final against New Zealand in Auckland.

Another former Bull in the news was Danny Addy, who got the only try as Scotland were humbled 50-4 by Tonga in Cairns.

Scotland, ranked fourth in the world, were blown away in the first half but kept the Pacific heavyweights scoreless for much of the second half, which is when Addy got his try.

Ireland, who did not use Bulls player Joe Keyes but had former Odsal favourite Anthony Mullally on the bench, notched a superb 36-12 win over Italy, also in Cairns, to bring some pride to the home nations and they could face England in the quarter-finals.

But Wales, who included former Bulls duo Craig Kopczak and Phil Joseph, were below-par in being thrashed 50-6 by Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby.

The Kumuls' assistant coach is former Bulls star Marcus Bai, who said: "We've still got a lot of work to do. It's great the boys played well in the first half and picked it up again in the second half."