After a code switch to rugby union, Sam Burgess returned to Redfern in 2016, proving to be a stand out in the Rabbitohs season and displaying form that saw him named the George Piggins Medallist.
Featuring in 23 games in 2016, Burgess was a dominant force in attack and defence for the Red and Greens, solidifying his position as the leader of the Rabbitohs forward pack.
Making 399 runs throughout the season – the 3rd most in the NRL – and averaging 147 metres with ball in hand per game, the Dewsbury Moor junior showcased his destructive ball running throughout the season.
Similarly to his efforts in attack, the 2014 Clive Churchill Medallist played a crucial role in the Rabbitohs defensive structure.
Burgess completed 803 tackles and 71 one on one tackles –both of which were leading statistics for his side – demonstrating why he is considered to be one of the strongest defensive players in the game.
Despite these dominant statistics, there was significant concern for the Englishman in the early stages of the season when the Rabbitohs took on the St George Illawarra Dragons in Round 3.
After awkwardly leading with his head, Burgess sustained a neck injury and was taken from the Sydney Cricket Ground by medicab before eventually being cleared of any serious damage.
Burgess recovered and soon after played his 100th match in the Cardinal and Myrtle in Round 5 against the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles at Brookvale Oval with the Rabbitohs winning 16-12.
Burgess was rewarded for his strong season with the back-rower claiming the George Piggins Medal and the Jack Rayner Player’s Player Award, as well as selection in Wayne Bennett’s England Four Nations squad.