Sam Burgess Flourishes On Return To Rugby League Fold At South Sydney

Ask 100 people for their opinion on Burgess’s spell in union and you would probably get 100 different answers. Some would see him as a scapegoat, others would say varying degrees of failure, and there would be all points in between. That in itself made a return to league all the more plausible, a sport where he was – and still is – widely acclaimed as one of the true masters of the code.

Last Monday, Wayne Bennett named Burgess in the 24-man England squad for the Four Nations although he will miss next Saturday’s warm-up against France due to suspension. As the 27-year-old prepares to return to international rugby for the first time since his fifth and final appearance for Stuart Lancaster’s union side, in the defeat to Australia – this time, as the poster boy – it is almost beyond belief that it is not yet a year since his short‑lived stay in union ended.

Burgess had never been far from the headlines but his time in union prompted a level of adversity he had not known before. That, Richardson believes, has brought a different character back to the beaches of Maroubra after a testing first 12 months back in league.

“He’s come back with a level of maturity that’s a bit tighter than it was before,” Richardson says.

“He’s calmer, much more of a leader off the field and there’s a real presence about the bloke when it comes to leadership. I think it will rub off on many of our players moving forward. We feel we’ve got a better player and a better man back from union.”

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