Back in Redfern as an assistant coach at South Sydney, former Rabbitohs and England prop Sam Burgess has spoken about overcoming multiple challenges since his retirement in 2019, and explained why he turned down Wayne Bennett and the Dolphins.
Burgess was a regular feature of the media in the aftermath of his retirement as he encountered a number of problems in his personal life.
But after spending some time in bush footy as coach of Group 2 side Orara Valley Axemen on the NSW mid-north coast, he returned to the big smoke with a choice – move to Brisbane to help Bennett build the Dolphins, or stay closer to home and return to help the red and green.
Burgess ultimately opted to stay in Sydney, with the tempting move to Brisbane taking him too far away from his children.
“I speak to Wayne a lot, still great mates with him, so he's good (with the decision),” Burgess told Fox Sports.
“It would have been a great opportunity but just the chance to be back at Souths, closer to my kids, back at the club I play for and the one that means the most to me, it was too hard to pass up.”
Burgess' decision echoed that of many players the Dolphins have tried to sign until now, with Cameron Munster and Ben Hunt just two of the names who were long associated with the new franchise before deciding to remain with their current clubs.
Rabbitohs coach Jason Demetriou couldn't help making a jibe at Bennett's recruitment challenges when talking about Burgess' decision to remain at South Sydney.
“He hasn't been able to get any of our players, Wayne,” said Demetriou, who spent five years under the revered mentor.
“Sam loves the club, this is where he wants to be and it's good we've been able to make it happen.
“Wayne is building his team up there and in Round 7 we'll get to lock horns and see how we go.”
That Round 7 clash will be the first time Demetriou has ever taken on his former boss – and he'd even consider bringing Burgess back if it weren't for contact concerns.
“He's going great and still running around, the big fella,” Demetriou said of Burgess.
“If he didn't have a dodgy shoulder, I could probably play him.
“He's been good, he brings a lot of energy and is keen to learn. He knows this club inside-out so having his experience in and around the place will be valuable.”