Reports out of England suggest that South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Sam Burgess has already signed a three year deal with the English Rugby Football Union that will see him playing Rugby Union for Bath by the end of 2014.
Former English Rugby League player Andrew Farrell is said to have helped negotiate the deal during last years Rugby League World Cup, where Sam Burgess represented England. The Rugby Football Union see Burgess as a strike player at inside center and have plans for him to be a key contributor to their 2015 Rugby Union World Cup campaign.
If all of this is true, Sam Burgess has stabbed the South Sydney Rabbitohs in the back. He has accepted all the good will and generosity of the club, its players, its fans, its administration and its ownership group, and in an act of treachery he has gone behind everyone’s back, knowing he was about to break his contract, and signed to play Rugby Union.
Few players have ever had same amount of effort put into them and their family as Sam Burgess received from South Sydney in 2013. The club had made an effort to sign Sam as well as his brothers George, Thomas and Luke, and then did everything they could to make sure they had that magic moment in late 2013 when all four played on the same field in the NRL.
Rabbitohs owner Russell Crowe could not have done more for the Burgess family. How many times did we see Julie Burgess, Sam’s Mum, in the owners box alongside Crowe, cheering on her boys and soaking up all the hospitality that the club happily offered her.
The club even went as far as to market Sam Burgess on a scale that no other player in the game received in 2013. The Rabbitohs were instrumental in putting together the Slammin Sam Burgess documentary with Russell Crowe himself having a hand in its success.
In short, the South Sydney Rabbitohs have committed to Sam Burgess and his family in a way that goes beyond a player/club relationship. You got the feeling that Russell Crowe connected to the Burgess family and was going to made sure he that anything he could do to help them, he would do.
What type of person does it take to receive all of that, and then at the first chance they get underhandedly sign a contract with another organisation knowing it means it will forced them to break that commitment to the club that has been so good to them?
When Sonny Bill Williams scampered away in the middle of the night in 2008 to sign a contract to play Rugby Union in France, he did so as a coward. He jumped on a plane in the middle of the dog and ran off like a dog.
Sam Burgess has signed with the RFU while smiling in Russell Crowe’s face. I don’t know which is worse…
Something also needs to be said about Andrew Farrell, who is a former Rugby League player that switched to Rugby Union when he was completely finished as a player. He went on to play Rugby Union for England and is now part of the English Rugby Union teams coaching staff.
Andrew Farrell along with Jason Robinson completely ditched Rugby League for Rugby Union. They had nothing to do with Rugby League at all for many years. Then, they started to find their way back, during big Rugby League events where there were free tickets and hospitality to be had.
These two in particular have gone out of their way to scout players for the RFU and help recruit Rugby League players for the RFU. Rugby League needs to wake up and cut these two out of the game. The contribute nothing as they look to take everything.
You now have to wonder what will happen at South Sydney. If I was Russell Crowe I would feel betrayed. How will the other three Burgess brothers remain at South Sydney when Sam has been so underhanded in his dealings. How can South Sydney possibly make the same commitment to George, Thomas, Luke, and the entire Burgess family in particular when they know how little loyalty Sam felt for the club after everything he had done for them.
What Sam Burgess has done is a dog act. It flies in the face of everything he talked about last year in terms of loyalty and commitments and the close friendship he said he had forced with Russell Crowe and everyone at the South Sydney Rabbitohs club.
I have no doubt he will be an outstanding success in Rugby Union. All Rugby League players that switch codes show they are on a completely different level physically and skill wise than their Rugby Union counterparts.
At 25 years of age Burgess could play Rugby Union for three years and still come back to play Rugby League for many for years into his eventual retirement. Clubs would happily sign him, but I would doubt that South Sydney ever would.
Sam Burgess was on a pathway that could have seen him be considered as one of the very rare modern day greats of English Rugby League. However, at 25 years of age, having never won a Super League title, having never won a Challenge Cup, having never won an NRL Grand Final, a Rugby League World Cup or a test series over Australia, he hasn’t really achieved anything close to what even the likes of Sam Tomkins, Adrian Morley and even Kevin Sinfield have.
I can not see how Sam Burgess can not run out in a South Sydney Rabbitohs jersey. I don’t see how anyone at the club, be it players, officials or fans, would want him there.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the Rabbitohs accepted a transfer fee from the RFU for his immediate release and we saw him playing the English Rugby Union off season with a Super League club before switching codes.
Either way, as a Rugby League fan in general, I can’t stomach the thought of Sam Burgess running out there in the famous red and green jersey that he was so willing to betray. I hate the thought of him running out in front of loyal South Sydney supporters who have give him and his family all the love and support in the world, knowing he betrayed all of them.
I hope Russell Crowe fast tracks Sam Burgess’ exit from the club. Burgess does not deserve another second of anyone’s time to waste. He does not deserve to return to the club. He does not even deserve a goodbye.
Sam Burgess treachery should never, ever be forgotten. I feel sorry for his brother that now have to play at the club in the wake of what Sam has done. I feel sorry for the players and supporters who will have the wind taken out of their sails by this news.
Good riddance to Sam Burgess. I hope we never see the dog playing another game of Rugby League ever again.
A well known Rugby League writer, League Freak has established a reputation among supporters of the game for his fearless commentary and unmatched insight. With a reach that spans both sides of the globe, League Freak has produced an independent network that allows him to distribute content to his many thousands of followers. He is the owner and main author of LeagueFreak.com
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