Former rugby union international and Rabbitohs forward Sam Burgess has let rip at a former coach for using him as a ‘pawn’ in a game of chess.
Burgess shocked the NRL world in 2014 when he signed for rugby union franchise Bath just after starring in and winning the grand final for the Rabbitohs.
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The Rabbitohs forward achieved his goal to make the England squad for the World Cup on their home soil in 2015.
But after being touted as a player to fill the much needed X-factor England were lacking, he was used as a scapegoat for the World Cup failure.
England were eliminated from their home tournament in the group stages after losses to Wales and Australia.
Burgess had plenty of criticism during this time, but the NRL star has also blamed his club coach, Mike Ford, for friction during camp.
“Mike Ford wanted the England coaching job,” Burgess told the House of Rugby podcast. “I had to tell him I couldn’t play for him anymore. I’d lost respect for him.
“I just felt that people behind the scenes were playing a deeper game.”
Burgess was starting ahead of George Ford, Mike Ford’s son, in the England team.
However, Burgess claims Ford wanted the England coaching job and things went sour.
After starting on the bench against Fiji in the opening match, Burgess was shifted to the midfield and George Ford benched against Wales.
“With George, Mike kind of infiltrated the camp - that is my take on it,” Burgess added.
“After me starting against Wales, my relationship with George completely changed, he wouldn’t talk to me, he was a bit sulky.”
Burgess returned to Bath following the disappointing campaign, which resulted in a 33-13 loss to Australia.
Burgess confronts Ford
The NRL forward said nothing was the same in the club’s change rooms after the World Cup.
“I went straight into his office and said ‘Mike I don’t trust you, I think you have been playing games behind my back, you have used me as a bit of a pawn in your game of chess, I can’t put my boots on and play for you every week’,” Burgess added.
“I will never forget his face when I said, ‘I can’t respect you, I think you are a bit of a snake.’ I remember the quiver that I got from him.”
Mike Ford went on to criticise Burgess after he returned to the NRL because he “didn't have the stomach” to stick it out at Bath.
Burgess returned to the Rabbitohs, before retiring in 2019 due to a chronic shoulder injury.