The departure of Rabbitohs assistant Sam Burgess at the end of the season is tipped to leave a big hole at the NRL club, following news this week the Souths legend will be taking up a head coaching role in England. Burgess - who has worked as an assistant coach at the Bunnies since retiring in 2019 - will take over as head coach of Super League’s Warrington Wolves back in his homeland from next year.
Burgess was a premiership winner and Clive Churchill medallist at the Rabbitohs, before joining the Souths coaching staff where he remains a massively influential figure. Discussing his impending exit on Tuesday night's NRL 360 program, league journalist Paul Crawley and Braith Anasta suggested the current state of affairs at the "underperforming" club could have played a role in Burgess' decision to leave his beloved Bunnies.
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“It’s a great thing for Sam. I’m not so sure Sam will miss Souths as much as Souths will miss him. His personality, he’s a winner, he excepts nothing less giving 100%," Crawley said. “Looking at South Sydney on the weekend, there is something that’s not right at the moment. They look distracted and I think Sam might end up being a big loss for them.”
Anasta agreed, adding: “With Sam, he’s been there done that, he knows what it takes to win a premiership. He’s a people person though, he’s one of the players. They really respect him, they love him, he’s transparent, they have a good relationship with him but he identifies what it takes to win premierships.
“What worries me with Souths at the moment, they are a little bit lost and not where they need to be and he’d know that but he’d also know what the players need to do better and what they need to do to get back on track to win a comp. They’ve got the cattle Souths. They’ve got the team, they’ve got the players but they are underperforming.
“He’s still there for the rest of the year but moving forward, he’s going to be a big loss because he’s the type of guy you want around your squad because he’s a realist, he’ll tell you straight between the eyeballs and sometimes your big game players need that.”
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Crawley suggested there was evidence things were not right at the Rabbitohs during their loss to the Sharks on the weekend. He said the way the players gravitated towards the club legend demonstrated how big a loss he will be for the Bunnies in 2024.
“There’s vision... on the weekend and Sam was sitting down and Damien Cook was standing over him and it was just like these players were gravitating towards him. 'What are we doing wrong, what do we need to fix?',” Crawley said. “It’s like he is the leader even though he’s not the leader on the field anymore. “
"You can see some frustrations out there on the weekend, there were a few things that didn’t go so right. Cody (Walker) hasn’t shown frustration all year but there are a few things creeping in and Latrell wasn’t right on his game.”
Burgess has been backed to make a big impact in his head coaching debut in England, with Matty Johns in awe of his leadership skills and tactical knowledge. The rugby league icon predicted Burgess would one day return to the NRL in a head coaching capacity.
“I think Sam Burgess will be outstanding,” Johns said on Sunday Night with Matty Johns. “I think Sam will have a long and successful coaching career.
"In my opinion, I think he will be back here coaching an NRL side. He is a great leader. He has got great tactical sense and he is a player’s man.”
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