South Sydney hero Sam Burgess says the pain in his shoulder towards the end of last season was so excruciating that it ''trumped the grand final tenfold''.
Burgess became part of Rabbitohs folklore when he played in the 2014 decider with a fractured eye socket and cheekbone.
Sam Burgess called time on his NRL career after the 2019 season due to a chronic shoulder injury.Credit:Getty
"I had to see what it was like. I came back and played about six or eight games, but I knew. I couldn't play. My worst nightmare or fear was letting people down and I was doing that. I was in pain constantly.
"We played Parramatta around Origin time, and that game I've never been in as much pain in my life. Honestly, it was the hardest injury I've ever had to manage.''
One of the toughest players of the modern era – and someone who former Souths legend Craig Coleman said would walk into any team of any era, including the great St George teams that won 11 straight titles – Burgess said he was still unsure how he would feel when his former teammates ran out without him come round one.
"I'm around the team every day, I'm at training, but it's not the same because I'm not out there leading the guys around,'' Burgess said. "Of course I miss it. I'd be lying if I said I didn't. I did it for 15 years or longer and I enjoyed every minute of it. I think I also have to learn to move on.
"It was the right decision [to retire]. And I'm content with where I'm going. I've always said that when the time is right I'll make the call and I won't go too far or too long. It just came a bit quicker than expected.''
The tough Englishman played the game hard and was often criticised for his lack if discipline.
"There would be a couple of things I'd tweak, but I wouldn't say regrets,'' he said with a smile.
Meanwhile Burgess said he had flown north to sell the Souths dream to David Fifita.
"But I didn't sell it very well, did I?'' Burgess said. "That was seven weeks ago. We've bought [Jai Arrow] since then. We're not in the mix.
David Fifita met with Sam Burgess before Christmas about a move to Redfern.Credit:Darren England/AAP
"I was asked to meet him. I didn't know the details of the deal, but I went to see what he was about as a guy, and if we were thinking about investing that much money in him, you need to see what he's about.
"He was bigger than I thought, he was calm guy, a cool customer. He had a bit going on at the time. Timing is sometimes everything. We missed out on him, but I wish him well. He'll have a great career.''
Kangaroos coach and Gold Coast recruitment boss Mal Meninga also attended Tuesday's launch and hoped to have a bit more joy luring Fifita away from Brisbane at the end of the season. "He could be the Jason Taumalolo of the [Queensland] south east,'' Meninga said.
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