Sam Burgess quits Bath and rugby union after less than a year in wake of Englands World Cup horror show

Sam Burgess quits Bath and rugby union after less than a year in wake of England's World Cup horror show - with return to South Sydney Rabbitohs Sam Burgess has walked out on his three-year Bath contract after one yearHis departure from union was speculated after the Rugby World CupBurgess's has returned to the NRL's South Sydney RabbitohsBath had insisted up to Thursday that Burgess is staying at the club 

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Sam Burgess has left Bath with immediate effect and has moved back to his former rugby league club the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

The controversial cross-code star - whose 12-month career in union will be remembered as an abject failure - reported for training at Bath on Monday following a 10-day break to 'spend time with his family'. 

Head coach Mike Ford insisted on Wednesday he would be staying at the Recreation Ground.

Bath owner Bruce Craig, who spent more than £275,000 in luring Burgess to union last year – on top of paying an annual salary of £500,000 – was also adamant on Wednesday the 26-year-old would honour the remaining two years on his contract.

But despite their assurances, speculation over Burgess' future has refused to go away, following reports last week he had asked to leave.

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Sam Burgess is leaving rugby union after ending his three-year contract with Bath after just one year

Sam Burgess is leaving rugby union after ending his three-year contract with Bath after just one year

Burgess faced widespread criticism after his inclusion in England's Rugby World Cup campaign  

Burgess faced widespread criticism after his inclusion in England's Rugby World Cup campaign  

Burgess returned to Bath on Monday after taking leave in Spain to gather his thoughts about his future

Burgess returned to Bath on Monday after taking leave in Spain to gather his thoughts about his future

Welcome Home @SamBurgess8! Full Story Here - https://t.co/yRE74AD7Te #GoRabbitohs pic.twitter.com/TZulZb6ZzJ

— South Sydney (@SSFCRABBITOHS) November 5, 2015

England's rugby league coach Steve McNamara has heralded the return of Burgess to the code.

'It's great for rugby league. I am tremendously proud of the fact that he had never played a game of rugby union, went across there and played for his country,' said McNamara, whose side won their first in a three-Test series against World Cup runners-up New Zealand.

'It was an outstanding achievement. What an outstanding rugby league player he is and is going to be. It will be great for us to have him available in the future.

Mail Online\nSam Burgess practicing at Farleigh house training ground near Bath, Somerset. November 2 2015. Sam Burgess is victim of cheap shots from ex-rugby union... LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 26: Sam Burgess of England is tackled by Scott Williams of Wales during the 2015 Rugby World Cup Pool A match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium on September 26, 2015 in London, United Kingdom.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images) Bath have had no offers for Sam Burgess, says owner Bruce... Leeds Rhinos ready to offer Sam Burgess a route back to... Mail Online\nSam Burgess practicing at Farleigh house training ground near Bath, Somerset. November 2 2015. Sam Burgess returns to Bath training after England's World... Share this article Share 184 shares

'He has been a really important part of our programme and will be moving forward now.

'I haven't spoken to him about it. If Sam wants to speak to me, he'll ask me. He came to watch his brother play in the France game and it was great to see him laughing, smiling and looking relaxed, enjoying himself.

'As we've always said Sam will make his own decision and he has done that.

'He has made a fist of it in union, he has played for his country. I do not understand the debate. We can all debate whether you should or should not be picked for your country but you have to admit to go from where he was to where he got to in that space of time – it has been a success for me. 

The 26-year-old joined Bath from October 2014 and played 21 times for the Aviva Premiership club

The 26-year-old joined Bath from October 2014 and played 21 times for the Aviva Premiership club

Bath head coach Mike Ford insisted on Wednesday he would be staying at the Recreation Ground

Bath head coach Mike Ford insisted on Wednesday he would be staying at the Recreation Ground

Burgess was controversially chosen over Luther Burrell to start in England's Rugby World Cup loss to Wales

Burgess was controversially chosen over Luther Burrell to start in England's Rugby World Cup loss to Wales

As news of Burgess's departure breaks, Bath Rugby post their best wishes for Bonfire Night

As news of Burgess's departure breaks, Bath Rugby post their best wishes for Bonfire Night

'I did always envisage him being back in rugby league but did not know when it would be, or how quick it would be. A lot of his family are based in Australia so at some point he was going to come back – thankfully for rugby league it is now.' 

The Rabbitohs, owned by film star Russell Crowe, have made no secret of their interest in re-signing the player Crowe refers to as his 'twinkly eyed boy'. They announced his signing on Thursday. 

Super League clubs, including Leeds Rhinos, had also expressed interest.

But Gary Hetherington, chief executive of Super League champions Leeds, conceded defeat to South Sydney in the battle for the former Bradford prop after being unable to agree a transfer fee with Bath.

It is thought Bath were hoping to receive £750,000 - far above the amount they were believed to have paid to Souths for him just over 12 months ago - to release the player from the two years left on his contract.

'We made our interest known and were ready to proceed had we been given the encouragement but it's fair to say Souths were always favourites as long as they could include him in their salary cap for 2016,' said Hetherington.

'To be honest, we never made an offer but were holding a watching brief.'

Former South Sydney chief executive Shane Richardson arrived in the UK last weekend on International Federation business but expressed a willingness to help his old club buy back their popular former player.

Bath owner Bruce Craig spent more than £275,000 in luring Burgess to union last year, plus a £500,000 salary

Bath owner Bruce Craig spent more than £275,000 in luring Burgess to union last year, plus a £500,000 salary

Some in rugby say Burgess has been used as a scapegoat and a rod with which to beat Stuart Lancaster

Some in rugby say Burgess has been used as a scapegoat and a rod with which to beat Stuart Lancaster

Burgess's return to league will be hugely embarrassing for Bath's owner and management, as well as England head coach Stuart Lancaster and attack coach Andy Farrell, who put their reputations on the line by insisting they could turn the rugby union novice into an international player in less than a year.

After making an encouraging debut against France in the World Cup warm-up game, Burgess was controversially selected to start in England's pool A defeat by Wales. He came off the bench in England's humiliating record home defeat to Australia, which now looks certain to be his last international appearance in the code.

Burgess has been switched between blindside flanker for Bath and inside centre for England and, on Wednesday, Craig blamed his World Cup selection for hampering his development.

'If he wasn't picked in the England squad, obviously his development would have increased,' the Bath owner said.

'I'm absolutely sure he can be a star of the World Cup if he sticks around. I think he can be a great No 6.

'Sam is with us for the next two years and is in contract unless anything changes and Sam changes his mind or someone else wants to come in.

'Whether he's having second thoughts or not, that's Sam's decision.'

Bath coach Mike Ford believed Burgess's future in rugby would be as a ferocious openside flanker

Bath coach Mike Ford believed Burgess's future in rugby would be as a ferocious openside flanker

A rugby league superstar, Burgess's final match in the code was leading South Sydney to the NRL tite

A rugby league superstar, Burgess's final match in the code was leading South Sydney to the NRL tite

Former players were critical of Burgess's efforts at the World Cup after he was chosen over more seasoned centre Luther Burrell to face Wales, none more damning that Ireland centre Gordon d'Arcy who said his 'naivety embarrassed those around him'.

'Burgess lacks the sense of timing, in attack and defence, required to be effective at international level,' D'Arcy wrote in the Irish Times.

'His naivety embarrassed those around him and severely damaged England's chances of reaching the quarter-finals. He had no idea what was happening around him.

SAM BURGESS - CODE CROSSER

RUGBY LEAGUE

2006-09: Bradford Bulls (88 matches, 17 tries)

2010-14: South Sydney Rabbitohs (95 matches, 26 tries) 

Great Britain: 2 Tests, 1 try

England: 13 Tests, 7 tries

RUGBY UNION

2014-15: Bath (21 matches, 4 tries)

England Saxons: 1 match

England: 5 Tests

'All Burgess did was run straight in search of collisions with [Wales centre] Jamie Roberts. who obliged but really conned him most of the time.

'Sam is a phenomenal athlete and clearly a fast learner. The damning question for Lancaster's England is: why were these learning curves taking place in the pool of death's must-win game?'

D'Arcy's long-time midfield partner Brian O'Driscoll was more supportive, saying the criticism wasn't fair.

'You can't compare League and Union like for like. Yes he's a big game player but from a defensive point of view when Sam was playing League he was defending in the middle of the pitch and didn't have to worry about deceptive runners running. He had big forwards carry ball and running straight at him.

'But now he's playing centre he's got to read the situations and read the decoy runners going through, and that's where he got caught out a couple of times last week.' 

Former All Black Ali Williams believes English rugby union is missing out, pointing to success stories Sonny Bill Williams and Brad Thorn as proof rugby league stars can thrive in union. 

'If it's true about @SamBurgess8 then he could always come to NZ and we could turn him into a superstar. #ask @SonnyBWilliams #askbradthorn,' Williams tweeted. 

Will Greenwood, a 2003 World Cup winner with England, said 'rugby union has let the lad down.'

Former All Blacks lock and World Cup winner Ali Williams believes Burgess is a great loss to England rugby

Former All Blacks lock and World Cup winner Ali Williams believes Burgess is a great loss to England rugby

Former Bath flanker Carl Fearns, who left the club after Burgess took his first-team place, reacts to the news

Former Bath flanker Carl Fearns, who left the club after Burgess took his first-team place, reacts to the news

Burgess's move to rugby union was supported reluctantly by the club's owner and his friend, Russell Crowe

Burgess's move to rugby union was supported reluctantly by the club's owner and his friend, Russell Crowe

A return to the NRL appeals to  Burgess, who would move back to the same country as him mum and brothers

A return to the NRL appeals to Burgess, who would move back to the same country as him mum and brothers

Burgess poses with the Clive Churchill Medal for the NRL grand final's man of the match, which he won after a heroic performance with a broken eye socket and cheek suffered in the opening minutes 

Burgess poses with the Clive Churchill Medal for the NRL grand final's man of the match, which he won after a heroic performance with a broken eye socket and cheek suffered in the opening minutes 

Burgess officially joined Bath in October last year, with his November debut coming late due to his recovery from a fractured eye socket and cheek he suffered while leading the Rabbitohs to the NRL Premiership.

After playing almost the entire match with the injury, picked up in a clash with fellow Englishman James Graham, of the Sydney Roosters, Burgess  required delicate surgery and an extended recovery.

The man-of-the-match performance was expected to be his last in rugby league, with his departure softened by the blessing of Rabbitohs owner and friend Russell Crowe.

Burgess's first try in a full union match came in Bath's Premiership clash with Wasps at The Rec in which he won man of the match.

As soon as January, Burgess was named in the England Saxons side to play the Irish Wolfhounds.

While starting out in the midfield, Burgess was seen as a future flanker by Ford, and when deployed there against Newcastle Falcons in April he was best on the park again with the most turnovers.

Ford was keen to continue his development as a back-rower, but his inclusion in Lancaster's squad saw him used as an impact player in the centres. 

SAM BURGESS TIMELINE 

Feburary 2014: Burgess announces he will switch to rugby union

October 2014: NRL Grand Final with South Sydney Rabbitohs against Sydney Roosters, winning Clive Churchill Medal for man of the match after playing most of game with broken cheek and eye socket

October 2014: Official contract with Bath and rugby education begins

November 2014: Debuts for Bath after recovering from face injuries

January 2015: Scored his first Bath try against Wasps at The Rec, named man of the match

January 2015: Named in the England Saxons squad to play the Irish Wolfhounds

April 2015: Started at blindside flanker for the first time for Bath against Newcastle Falcons and executed more turnovers than any Premiership player in the round

August 2015: Named in the England Elite Squad to make his International debut against France at Twickenham. Started in England's 19-14 win; became first England player sin-binned on international debut

September 2015: Played 19 minutes in 35-11 bonus point win over Fiji in Rugby World Cup opener

September 2015: Controversially started in England's 28-25 loss to Wales; England leading 25-18 when replaced by George Ford

October 2015: Replaced Brad Barritt 16 minutes from the end of England's 33-13 loss to Australia that made Lancaster's side the first hosts not to make the quarter-finals

October 2015: Given leave from Bath to 'spend time with family' amid speculation over returning to rugby league

November 2015: Returned to training with Bath on Monday, November 2, with coach Mike Ford confident he would stay at club.

Present: Awaiting confirmation of Burgess's next move, with a return to the Rabbitohs the most likely conclusion to the saga 

 

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