MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Dual code international Sam Burgess has retired from Australia’s National Rugby League due to complications with a chronic shoulder injury, his club South Sydney said on Wednesday.
Burgess hurt his left shoulder early in the Rabbitohs’ season and later developed an infection after routine surgery on the injury.
“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,” the 30-year-old said in a Rabbitohs media release.
“I am no longer able to be myself day in, day out on the training field and consequently the playing field.
“I will not be playing in the NRL next season. My time has come to an end. I’m excited for my next chapter in life whatever that may be.”
Burgess was lured to the Rabbitohs by co-owner and Hollywood actor Russell Crowe in 2009 and helped the team break their 43-year NRL championship drought in 2014.
His dominant performance in the season-ending Grand Final, in which he played with a broken cheekbone and eye socket, earned him the Clive Churchill medal as the championship match’s best player.
Having started out in the Super League for Bradford Bulls, Burgess brought his brothers Tom, George and Luke along for his Australian adventure and in 2013 all four represented the Rabbitohs in the same team.
Burgess made the switch to rugby union to represent England at the 2015 World Cup and earned five caps for Stuart Lancaster’s side.
His selection was controversial, however, drawing criticism from pundits after England were knocked out of the pool phase of their home World Cup.
He returned to rugby league and the Rabbitohs for the 2016 NRL season where he remained a favourite.
“His leadership and capabilities on the field match the man he is off it,” said Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett.
“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.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)