Sam Burgess has announced the arrival of his first child with fiancée Lucy Graham, after the impending birth was used as one of the reasons for his early departure from South Sydney. Burgess quit his role as assistant coach just two weeks out from the NRL finals after he couldn't fall into line with what coach Jason Demetriou was doing.
Burgess had reportedly expressed concerns about supposed 'preferential treatment' of star players Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker, and jumped from the sinking ship before Souths eventually missed out on making the finals. The 'official' reason given for Burgess' early departure was he wanted to focus on the impending birth and his upcoming move to Warrington next season as head coach.
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On Friday, he announced on Channel 7 that Graham had given birth to a baby girl called Robbie. "[It happened] during grand final week, we're cheering," he said on Sunrise. "I'm on very limited sleep and am getting used to that again but it's great."
The 34-year-old said that Lucy and Robbie are "doing really well", adding: "She is fantastic and beautiful just like her mother." Robbie is Burgess' third child. He has Poppy (six) and Billy (four) with ex-wife Phoebe.
The Rabbitohs released a statement at the time of Burgess' departure mentioning the upcoming birth, while Burgess later said it was the right time to leave "given the circumstances". However the official line about why Burgess left was called out by journalists as Demetriou and club CEO Blake Solly held a press conference.
Demetriou denied that Burgess' departure had anything to do with a clash with him or the way Mitchell and Walker are treated. “I didn’t want Sam out of the club. But it is what it is, the decision has been made and we move on,” Demetriou said.
“Sam and I had many discussions, it’s not something I’m going to talk about publicly, they’re discussions between Sam and I and I’m sure Sam will respect that as well. We all have differences, I had many conversations with Wayne Bennett and every coach I’ve worked with, we all have differences.
"But there’s a lot more external factors as well with him about to take the job at Warrington and he’s about to have a baby as well. They’re all factors that pour into it but my focus is to get the team ready for two weeks time.”
Souths called out over reasons for Sam Burgess' exit
Leading journalist Michael Chammas put it to Solly that no-one would be buying the line about Burgess leaving for his fiancee. “No-one is going to believe that Sam Burgess left a week out from the start of finals contention for those reasons, do you feel Sam was let down by the club?” Chammas asked. “Obviously Sam deciding to leave means he feels there are issues that he has which were not being heard."
Solly responded: “That’s not the discussion we had with Sam this morning, that he felt let down by the club at all. Jason just said there were discussions with Sam that will remain in these four walls."
League legend Benny Elias said at the time: “Obviously what’s happened, with two games to go, to be asked to leave the place is disgusting, insulting and terrible. There’s no two ways about it. He expects the highest standards from all of his players and those standards haven’t been met.”
The Rabbitohs lost to the Roosters in the final round of the regular season and finished ninth on the ladder. They became the first team in the NRL era to miss the finals after leading the competition as late as round 12.
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