Devastating injury forces Sam Burgess into early retirement

Sam Burgess has been crippled by a nasty shoulder injury. Pic: Getty

Sam Burgess' NRL career is over with South Sydney expected to announced their captain's injury-enforced retirement.

The 30-year-old England Test star has battled shoulder injuries throughout his career, culminating in an infection after another surgery this season.

Burgess’ imminent exit with three years left to run on his multi-million dollar deal presents questions about the effect on South Sydney's salary cap, given his retirement is based on medical grounds.

The Rabbitohs are yet to formally request cap dispensation but it's believed they soon will given it is a new injury stopping Burgess playing again.

The fact he is retiring before the beginning of the next rugby league year on November 1 could mean his entire wages are stricken from the 2020 cap if their application is successful.

Burgess will go down as one of the NRL's great forwards.

He has played 182 games for Souths and was Clive Churchill Medallist in their drought-breaking 2014 grand final win.

Burgess clutches at his troublesome shoulder during the preliminary final loss against Canberra. Pic: Getty

Tough and rugged in the middle, he has been the leader of the Rabbitohs' forward pack since his NRL debut in 2010.

He was named their player of the year in 2014, 2016 and 2017 after missing the 2015 season in a brief switch to rugby union.

Burgess blow leaves leadership void at Rabbitohs

Burgess also played 88 games for Bradford in the English Super League and represented England at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

His retirement will leave a leadership void at Souths.

Greg Inglis had to call time on his career earlier this year, while fellow former captain John Sutton called it quits at the end of 2019.

Damien Cook, Cameron Murray and Adam Reynolds are expected to be the leading contenders to take over the captaincy.

David Fifita, Jai Arrow and Tyson Frizell have been mooted as back row replacements, with each off contract at the end of 2020 and available to be approached from Friday.

Fifita in particular is considered one of the game's best rising stars, having starred for Brisbane in 2019 before being one of the Kangaroos' best in the World Cup Nines.

Rabbitohs mentor Wayne Bennett previously coached Fifita at the Broncos.

Burgess is currently overseas, while Bennett is in New Zealand with the Great Britain Test squad.

SAM BURGESS CAREER:

* NRL Games: 182

* Tests: 26 (24 for England, 2 for Great Britain)

* Tries: 44

* Premierships: 1 (2014)

* 2013 RLIF prop of the year

* 2014 Clive Churchill Medallist

* 2014 Dally M lock of the year

* 2014 RLIF player of the year

* Three-times South Sydney player of the year (2014, 2016 and 2017)

* Rugby union Tests: 5 (including England's 2015 World Cup campaign).