Rabbitohs Star Sam Burgess Retires From NRL Over Shoulder Injury

Premiership-winning captain Sam Burgess has retired immediately from the NRL on a sad note, with the star forward succumbing to a shoulder injury.

English international Burgess has struggled with injury issues for some time, undergoing surgery for several shoulder reconstructions and suffering through a shoulder infection for most of this season.

After an unlucky and injury-plagued 2019, the 30-year-old had hoped to overcome the problem and return to the National Rugby League with the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2020.

However,  the team announced his immediate retirement on Wednesday. He had played 182 games for the Rabbitohs, scoring 44 tries.

"This decision was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my life, however the decision was out of my hands essentially. I am no longer able to be myself day in, day out on the training field and consequently the playing field," Burgess said in a statement released by the club.

The Rabbitohs paid tribute to their captain in a long statement released online.

"Burgess, 30, will retire from the sport he loves due to a chronic left shoulder condition that only became apparent earlier this year after routine surgery," the Rabbitohs said in a statement on Wednesday afternoon, after news circulated earlier in the morning that an announcement was imminent.

"Burgess will be remembered as one of the Rabbitohs’ finest leaders from the Club’s 111-year history, and is recognised within the sport as one of the best, if not the best, Englishmen to ply his trade on Australian shores."

Burgess said he "loved absolutely every minute; the highs, the lows; the Grand Final; coming home; my injuries; my dates with the judiciary. It really has been a fantastic ride."

"I’m excited for my next chapter in life whatever that may be."

Burgess played for Bradford in the English Super League between 2006-09, before moving to Australia to join the Rabbitohs. He inspired the club to grand final victory in 2014, famously playing nearly the entire game with a broken cheekbone sustained early on, and was named winner of the Clive Churchill Medal as man of the match.

Burgess briefly switched codes, playing a season of British rugby union with Bath, before returning to South Sydney in 2016.

Burgess has reportedly succumbed to a shoulder injury. Image: Getty

Burgess underwent shoulder reconstructions in 2010 and 2011. In July this year, it was revealed doctors had discovered an infection in his shoulder -- thought to be from a previous surgery -- as they began treatment on yet another injury to the same area.

The forward had a drip inserted into his heart, and had to sit on the sidelines for months, as he battled the infection. He returned to the field and courted controversy at the end of the 2019 season, branding the NRL disciplinary judiciary as "like a kangaroo court" after he was suspended for pulling an opponent's hair.

It's understood Burgess is currently overseas, and is unlikely to take part in the official announcement.

Sam Burgess is set to retire, according to reports. Image: AAP

Burgess is contracted to the club until the end of 2022 on a four-year deal believed to be worth about $1 million a season.

The report comes after The Courier Mail revealed on Tuesday that Broncos and Queensland star Matt Gillett may also retire, following his battle with serious injuries to his shoulder and neck.

More to come.