Sam Burgess’s time at South Sydney is over after the assistant coach left training early this morning following a rollercoaster 48 hours for the Rabbitohs.
- Sam Burgess says he will concentrate on his forthcoming role with the Warrington Wolves
- Souths need to beat bitter rivals the Sydney Roosters next week to guarantee they make the top eight
- The Rabbitohs have not missed the finals since 2017
Burgess was whisked away by his partner, Lucy Graham, outside the club’s training centre prior to the morning session.
The England international was forced to walk out of the front doors of the Heffron Park base and front a media scrum.
Burgess is set to join Super League club Warrington next year but his expedited exit has led to fresh scrutiny for the Bunnies amid a dramatic form slump and talk of unrest among players and coaching staff.
“I’ve made the decision to step away from South Sydney, given the circumstances,” Burgess said in a statement.
“My immediate focus is the upcoming birth of our baby and preparing for my new role at Warrington.”
Club chairman Nick Pappas left soon after Burgess’s departure, with chief executive Blake Solly set to front the media on Wednesday.
Burgess — a club legend who enjoys a strong relationship with club co-owner Russell Crowe — has clashed with head coach Jason Demetriou, a dynamic which has come to light in recent days.
Both Burgess and fellow assistant coach John Morris have raised concerns over Demetriou’s preferential treatment of star fullback Latrell Mitchell.
Morris’s future was unclear after Burgess’s hasty departure but he was present at training, sharing jokes with Demetriou before it was confirmed he would remain at the club.
Regardless, Morris is expected to become Benji Marshall’s number two at Wests Tigers next season.
But Burgess’s departure cannot be understated at a critical juncture in Souths’ season.
The former prop, who helped the Rabbitohs break their premiership drought in 2014, retains a close bond from his playing days at the club.
His brother Tom trained on Wednesday but Demetriou will now need to get everyone pulling in the same direction with their season on the line.
There also appear to be divisions among players over Mitchell getting an easy ride from Demetriou.
A late-season implosion has left them needing to beat bitter rivals the Sydney Roosters next week to guarantee they make the top eight.
Souths have not missed the finals since 2017 and the case hasn’t been helped by the fact Mitchell was suspended on Tuesday for dangerous contact in Sunday’s lacklustre loss to Newcastle.
Mitchell’s application has been the elephant in the room at the Rabbitohs all season.
Some at the club have privately raised concerns over his fitness and dedication after missing 10 weeks of the season with a calf injury.
The Australia international was spotted downing beers on stage with country singer Luke Coombs last week, only to turn in an anaemic performance against Newcastle with Souths’ season in the balance.