South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Sam Burgess has officially announced his injury-forced retirement on Wednesday afternoon.
Burgess, who was hampered by a shoulder injury throughout the 2019 season, was limited to just 19 games across South Sydney’s frustrating campaign under new coach Wayne Bennett, and wasn’t the player he once was in the games he did play, averaging fewer metres run and tackles per game than in any season since 2013.
With rumours surrounding his playing future, it’s was widely reported on Wednesday morning that the English forward’s retirement would be confirmed today, and it was in a letter to members at 2pm (AEDT). The Rabbitohs are understood to have fast-tracked the announcement to ensure it is made before the end of the NRL financial year, which is on Thursday, October 31.
What is unclear at this stage is excactly how much of the Englishman’s salary the Rabbitohs will have to foot over the next three years.
The forward, who may go down as the best import to ever play in the NRL, was still contracted to the Redfern-based club until the end of 2022, on a four-year deal which is believed to be worth somewhere around $1 million per season.
South Sydney will now have to work with the NRL to work out how much of that comes out of their salary cap going forward, with the club already going through this situation earlier in the year due to the premature retirement of Greg Inglis.
Burgess’s retirement brings his nine-year stay in the NRL to an end. He made his debut for South Sydney in 2010 and since then has won one premiership, played in multiple finals and stamped his authority as one of the premier forwards in the game.
The Rabbitohs will now be desperate to bolster their forward depth for 2020, given they also lost John Sutton to retirement.
While they do have the recently signed Jayden Su’A and Ethan Lowe at the club, they have also been heavily linked with David Fifita, and more recently, Dragons second-rower Tyson Frizell. Frizell is rumoured to be unhappy at the Red V and has also been linked with the Parramatta Eels.