Sam Burgess is loving life again.
The Rabbitohs legend is back at the club as an assistant coach but onlookers at pre-season training would be forgiven for thinking he’s still playing.
Burgess still takes part in all the fitness sessions and hasn’t lost his title as the club’s chief storyteller in between drills.
“I’m back on my feet, it’s good,” Burgess told foxsports.com.au.
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Burgess has been embroiled in several scandals since a chronic shoulder injury forced him into retirement in 2019.
But the Englishman bounced back with a stint coaching in the bush and then had to choose between starting his NRL coaching apprenticeship under Wayne Bennett or Jason Demetriou.
Burgess played under Bennett at Souths but a move to Brisbane to work under the now Dolphins coach would have taken him too far away from his children.
“I speak to Wayne a lot still, still great mates with him, so he’s good (with my decision),” Burgess said.
“It would have been a great opportunity but just the chance to be back at Souths, closer to my kids, back at the club I played for and the one that means the most to me so it was too hard to pass up.”
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Bennett has been struggling to recruit players to the Dolphins – who will enter the NRL next season – despite pursuing several Souths stars he coached at the Rabbitohs.
Demetriou, who spent five years under Bennett as an assistant before succeeding him at Souths, was always confident of landing Burgess and coudln’t resist a cheeky dig at his former mentor.
“He hasn’t been able to get any of our players, Wayne, so… Sammy loves the club, this is where he wants to be and it’s been good we’ve been able to make it happen,” Demetriou said.
“Wayne is building his team up there and in Round 7 next year we’ll get to lock horns and see how we go.”
Burgess has made no secret of his desire to be a head coach i nthe NRL one day, but emphasised he’s in no rush.
“It’s totally different now on the other side of the fence really but I’m pretty intertwined with the players still, I’ve got great relationships with most of them,” he said.
“The majority of the work since I got back has been with the younger players, fringe players.
“This week has probably been the best week back with experience back, we get to do a bit more quality work, so it’s been really good.
“I’m enjoying where I’m at now, I’m enjoying what I’m bringing here and helping out with the staff here.
“There’s a lot of work in it so there’s no rush. I’d like to be a head coach one day but only when the time is right and the right place.”
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Burgess revealed he’s taking part in the fitness sessions as part of a bet with star five-eighth Cody Walker.
“I’ve got a little challenge with Cody Walker. We’ve got a skinfold challenge up until Christmas just to keep each other honest,” he said.
“Cody is winning. But I’m trying to keep fit around the young fellas, it’s good to get a chance to run.
“I ran with Damien Cook on the first lap and then blew my legs out but nah first couple of weeks back it took me a while to get into it but now I feel all right.”
Demetriou said Burgess was in such good shape that he’d consider playing him if only his body could handle the contact.
“He’s going great and still running around the big fella, if he didn’t have a dodgy shoulder I could probably play him,” Demetriou said.
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“He’s been good, brings a lot of energy and is keen to learn which is good. He knows this club inside out so having his experience in and around the place will be valuable.
“He’s got that aurora about him, he’s been there and done that and he’s learning how to do that as a coach now.”
Burgess played under Demetriou when he was an assistant at Souths and said his development has been nothing short of incredible.
Demetriou took Souths to the preliminary final in his first season in charge, despite losing star halfback Adam Reynolds to the Broncos.
“It’s been amazing. He’s been so great for the club, he’s a really passionate guy,” Burgess said.
“He did such a good job with them last year, I thought he managed some parts extremely well. He’s great to work with and he’s got the experience.
“He’s a good character, a young bloke, fits in well with the players, he’s a great guy.”
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