George Burgess announcement rocks NRL fans: 'Heartbreaking'

Pictured here, Rabbitohs premiership winner George Burgess has announced his retirement from the NRL.
Rabbitohs premiership winner George Burgess has retired after returning to the NRL for just one season with the Dragons. Pic: Getty

The Rugby league world is paying tribute to George Burgess after the NRL premiership-winning prop announced that he was calling time on his professional career. Burgess' return to the NRL has been an unhappy one after he was released by the St George Illawarra last month, following a drama-filled first year back in Australia's competition.

Burgess - who famously won a premiership with the South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2014 - revealed on social media on Sunday that he was hanging up the boots for good. Still only 30 - the destructive prop's career will end with 153 NRL games to his name as well as 15 Tests for England.

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"It is with a heavy heart that I officially announce my retirement from rugby league. It has been a dream come true to live out my boyhood dream and represent my family and country through my time especially at South Sydney and England," Burgess posted on Instagram.

"Unfortunately injuries ended my career before I would've liked but I am a happy man walking away from this beautiful game with my achievements."

A star forward at South Sydney, Burgess was unlucky not to be named Clive Churchill Medallist in the club's drought-breaking grand-final win over Canterbury in 2014. The middle forward ran 200 metres in the Rabbitohs' 30-6 grand-final win over Canterbury, while also scoring the go-ahead try in the second half. Instead it was his brother Sam that took man-of-the-match honours after famously playing through the pain of multiple fractures in his eye socket from a brutal collision with Canterbury's James Graham.

Pictured centre, Rabbitohs prop George Burgess (centre) celebrates after scoring a try in the 2014 grand final against Canterbury.
Rabbitohs prop George Burgess (centre) celebrates with brother Sam Burgess (L) after scoring a try in the 2014 grand final against Canterbury. Pic: Getty

Rugby league world pays tribute to George Burgess

Since that grand final triumph, George Burgess has developed into one of the game's best front-rowers at the Rabbitohs, before exiting the club for Wigan in 2020. He suffered a career-threatening hip injury that restricted him to just eight games with the Wigan Warriors.

However, earlier this year he became the first professional rugby league player to return from hip resurfacing surgery when he signed a two-year deal with the Dragons. However it was to be short-lived. The prop was charged with sexual touching without consent before later checking into a rehabilitation facility. Burgess is set to fight the charge, and ended the year by playing 11 games in reserve grade.

But his hopes of a first-grade return are now likely over, with injuries set to spell a premature end to the Englishman's career. Burgess' retirement leaves twin brother Tom as the last active playing member of the Burgess clan - the 30-year-old still having one year remaining on his deal with the Rabbitohs.

Rugby league fans have been quick to pay tribute to George Burgess on social media and congratulate him on a fantastic career, following the sad retirement news.

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with AAP

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