Former England captain Sam Burgess has been forced to retire from all rugby league through injury.
The 30-year-old, widely considered one of the game’s best players, has been suffering from a shoulder injury and has been unable to recover sufficiently to continue his career.
The former Bradford Bull moved to Australia and the NRL to join the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2010, where he became one of the league’s biggest stars and managed to play with all three of his brothers Luke, Sam and George.
He also briefly switch codes to union when he signed for Bath in 2015, featuring in the Rugby World Cup that year, but returned to Sydney and rugby league after the competition finished.
Burgess announced: “This decision was one of the hardest decisions I've had to make in my life, however the decision was out of my hands essentially. I am no longer able to be myself day in, day out on the training field and consequently the playing field.
“I have loved absolutely every minute; the highs, the lows; the Grand Final; coming home; my injuries; my dates with the judiciary. It really has been a fantastic ride.”
Wayne Bennett, Burgess’ coach with England and the Rabbitohs (as well as the Great Britain Lions), highlighted the player as a major factor in him choosing to work with the Rabbitohs. He said: "He was one of the drawcards for me in coming to coach at South Sydney.
"His leadership and capabilities on the field match the man he is off it. I thought it was a real blow to the game when he left to play rugby union but I'm glad he saw the light and came back.
"I'm glad to have played a small role in his career and I feel blessed that he has been part of mine. I know he has made the right decision."
As a young English kid growing all I wanted to do was be like you.Then I got the chance to meet and become friends with you and to play along side you,which was a dream come true.Your a inspiration to every rugby league player in the game.Enjoy your retirement you legend 😘 pic.twitter.com/4iQ8KAaqya
— John Bateman (@johnbateman1) October 30, 2019
Away from his success in rugby league, much was made of Burgess’ short time in union. He was fast-tracked into the international set-up by then head coach Stuart Lancaster, and came under criticism as England crashed out at the pool stages of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
He later admitted his “heart wasn’t in” rugby union and was welcomed back to Sydney with open arms. In 2014, in his last game of his first spell at the Rabbitohs, we won the NRL title, and was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal for best player in the grand final, despite breaking his cheek in the game’s first play.`
Great Britain captain and England team-mate James Graham, who was the opponent who tackled him when he broke his cheek, said today: "From a personal point of view, as a team-mate and a friend, I'm disappointed for him and the circumstances. It's a consequence of the way he goes about his business and plays the game.
"For Great Britain and England he's a huge loss, and for our competition in the NRL. The game's going to be poorer for him not being there. He's one of our competition's biggest stars. He's one of Great Britain and England's greatest."
Sad day for the game when @SamBurgess8 has to retire early.
The best player I ever played alongside.
A absolute champion on and off the field.
A pleasure to play with you and to share some great times away from the game.
One of the true greats of the modern era.
— Jamie Peacock MBE (@JamiePeacock10) October 30, 2019
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