Clive Churchill medallist Sam Burgess has given his blessing to James Packer's co-ownership of South Sydney, as the billionaire sets his sights on turning the Rabbitohs into the biggest sporting club in the country.
Packer's long speculated ownership move on the NRL premiers was confirmed on Thursday, after he purchased Peter Holmes a Court's 37.5 per cent stake in the club to join Russell Crowe as a co-owner.
A former board member of the Rabbitohs' bitter arch rivals the Sydney Roosters, Packer is said to have paid around $7.5 million for his stake in Souths.
The move came less than three weeks after Burgess led the club to their first premiership in 43 years.
The England international has assumed legendary status at Redfern alongside the likes of John Sattler, after playing for the entire grand final win over Canterbury with a fractured cheekbone and eye socket.
Burgess lifted the club to onfield heights unseen in almost five decades, and the rugby-bound international, who has played his last game for Souths, said Packer could do the same for the Rabbitohs off the field.
"I think South Sydney are in great hands," Burgess told reporters after being crowned international player of the year at a function in Brisbane on Thursday.
"Russell has been great for the club over the years and not only will James bring experience and business know-how to the club, he will bring much more.
"I think James has got himself involved in a club going in the right direction."
"It's disappointing I won't be a part of it but I will be a South Sydney man for a long time, it has a special place in my heart."
Crowe and Holmes a Court assumed ownership of the Rabbitohs in 2006 following a vote by members, who retain the final 10 per cent share in the club.
Packer first became involved with the Rabbitohs earlier this year when his casino interest Crown Resorts became the major sponsor of the club in a three-year deal.
Packer happily announced his takeover in a press release on Thursday morning.
"This is a very proud day for my family," Packer said in the statement.
"My father had a long history and association with Souths and to now be a co-owner with Russell Crowe and the members is an honour and a privilege.
"I am hopeful that working together with Russell, Souths chairman Nick Pappas and CEO Shane Richardson, we can win more premierships for the fans, secure the club's long term financial future and in time establish Souths as Australia's number one football club; with the biggest supporter base for all codes."
NRL boss Dave Smith welcomed Packer's involvement with Souths.
"James has been involved in the game for a long time one way or another, he's been a big supporter of the game across different clubs and it's great we have formalised that relationship," Smith said.