Returning South Sydney star Sam Burgess will mark his NRL comeback by lining up to floor club captain Greg Inglis. The Rabbitohs confirmed Burgess’ new contract was ratified by the governing body late on Saturday night, paving the way for his anticipated return to the 13-man code.
“The Rabbitohs are pleased to inform members that Sam Burgess’ contract has been registered by the NRL this week,” the club said in a statement. “Sam will play in the red and green of the Rabbitohs until at least the end of the 2018 season.”
For the first time since agreeing to terms with the club last month, the 27-year-old joined his old teammates in a training camp at Coffs Harbour this week. However his first outing won’t be in the famed cardinal and myrtle. The 2014 Clive Churchill medallist will instead be in a World All Stars strip when they take on the Indigenous All Stars at Suncorp Stadium in February.
On the other side of the pitch will be clubmates Inglis, Alex Johnston and Chris Grevsmuhl. Burgess’s brother Tom was picked on the bench by World All Stars coach Wayne Bennett. Fellow Englishman James Graham, who is slated to start alongside Sam, welcomed his countryman back to rugby league with open arms and predicted a quick return to form.
“It’s only been 12 months out of the game, I can’t see why too much would have changed,” Graham said last week. “I caught up with him a few times back in England and am delighted to have him back in the game to be honest. The year he left we lost three of the best five players in the game at the time so to get at least one of those back is great. He’s a superstar, he puts bums on seats and makes people tune in.”
The Rabbitohs also confirmed the re-signing of promising youngster Angus Crichton until the end of 2018, as well as the recruitment of Melbourne centre Hymel Hunt on a one-year deal. South Sydney’s pre-season schedule includes games against St George Illawarra, Northern Pride and a World Club Challenge against St Helens.
Their opening game of the 2016 season is against arch rivals Sydney Roosters on March 6.