Sam Burgess says life after football was a major consideration in his newly-inked deal with the Rabbitohs, one that has the flexibility to end before the official 2023 conclusion if both parties agree.
"I think I've got five years in me," Burgess told media at the club's Redfern Oval training base when announcing the deal on Wednesday afternoon.
If it gets to the end of the deal and a then-34-year-old Burgess is still fit and loving football, an extension beyond 2023 is also a possibility but that seems like the likely end date to allow him to transition into a life after football – one that could include a move toward coaching or a media career.
"In the back of my mind, I always figured I'd be here long term but to get it locked in is good obviously," Burgess said.
"It's quite daunting going into your last contract but I put quite a lot of thought into it, into transitioning so I don't just get into my last year of playing [with nothing to move on to]."
The flexibility and support of the club were a bit part in getting the deal done more quickly than anticipated.
Storm v Rabbitohs - Qualifying Final
"At any stage throughout this, if I'm not up to it, the last thing I want to do is put myself out there and not do a job and justify the faith Souths have put in me," Burgess said.
"When the time's right we'll make the right call but certainly the goal is to get to the end of 2023. The game's getting faster and harder every year.
"I want to be healthy post-career, I want to go out when I'm playing good, I want to leave on my terms and I'll confident I'll do that. Obviously, it gives me great security but I can make the call whenever the time's right.
"It works both ways. We'll cross that bridge when we get there. I want to be able to run around and kick a ball around with my kids when I'm 40 years old.
"We'll make the right call when the time is there but I see me getting to 2023. Five years – I've got five years. It goes quicker than you know. I don't think the timing is an issue but if it is then we'll make the right decision at that time."
He insists he has no idea what his post-playing career will look like yet but would like to qualify as a coach regardless of whether that becomes a career path.
"I love the game. I grew up sleeping with a football. I adore the game, I love the passion about the game so I'd love to stay around the game in some capacity, whether that's coaching, whether I go through the media side of things with Fox, I really enjoy my work there as well," he said.
Inglis: Playing Melbourne at home is tough
"Rugby league's my passion, it's all I know. I grew up in the backyard with three brothers kicking a ball about. My dad played, my mum played, my dad coached me. We brought rugby league into my secondary school.
"My maths teacher was a rugby league fan, we got a rugby league team into the school from when we started there. I've just loved rugby league my whole life."
There is no question Burgess wants to stay involved in the game once he hangs up the boots, just as there is no question that he was ever going to finish out his career at another NRL club.
"I've invested a lot of love into the club. To walk away from that and try and find love somewhere else, I'd find it too hard," he said
Burgess was hopeful his younger brothers, twins George and Tom, who are both of contract at the end of 2019, would extend at the club – but stressed none of them wanted to be thought of as a package deal despite their close family ties.
"This year we've been treated as individuals and I think it's worked, it's been fantastic," Burgess said.
"That's why it's not a package deal. The twins will go through their own process probably at the end of the year as well.
"I'd love them to stay. I'd hate to play against them. Training against them is hard enough so I'd hate to play against them. They're their own people and have their own aspirations. They're at different stages in life. Ideally, I'd love them to be at South Sydney and I'm sure they'll work that out in time."
Don't miss out on seeing your team chase premiership glory. Make sure to get your tickets to week 1 of the 2018 NRL Telstra Premiership Finals Series