Sam Burgess returns to the NRL with no regrets from his ill-fated stint in rugby union, nor does he harbour any ill-feelings towards South Sydney teammate Luke Keary.
Burgess found himself in the middle of a bonding session blow-up between Keary and Rabbitohs co-owner Russell Crowe in January, with the issue still bubbling ahead of Souths’ season opener with the Sydney Roosters on Sunday.
But the English superstar insists the incident at Crowe’s Nana Glen Farm, where Keary was left livid at Burgess for not defending Souths’ young brigade after they’d come under fire from the actor, was a storm in a teacup.
“Me and Luke are great friends,” Burgess said on Fox Sports’ On the Couch with Sterlo.
“Luke’s a great man and he’s a passionate guy.”
Burgess said the disagreement was typical of “25 males together” and declared the entire Rabbitohs squad in harmony on season’s eve.
“We all woke up the next morning and thought `how good was last night’ and `how good was yesterday with the whole team’,” Burgess said of the squad’s bonding camp.
“It wasn’t just a drink-up. We played cricket together, we went out and trained in the morning. We went paint-balling.
“We had a great day together and it’s obviously a shame that’s what gets picked up on the day.
“It was certainly blown out of proportion.”
Personnel changes aside, Burgess says the club he left after his heroic performance in the 2014 grand final is “not different at all” 18 months on.
“The ethos – our attitude as a group of players – is still the same,” Burgess said.
“We’re still striving to improve, to become as good as we can as both an individual player and as a team and as people off the field as well.
“And not just the team side of things, the whole office staff over the road. They’re all pulling in the same direction.
“Everyone’s turning up to work with a smile on their face every day and it’s a great environment to be.
“So I’m certainly happy to be back around Redfern and I’m looking forward to the season starting this weekend and I guess all those tongues wagging from the outside.
“We can start really talking about some real things, which is the action on the field.”
Burgess is philosophical about being made the scapegoat for England’s Rugby World Cup flop last year.
“I don’t expect to be loved by everyone and from the outside I can see why people might have those headlines,” he said.
“The saving grace for me is I can look at myself in the mirror and know I gave 110 per cent. I definitely didn’t let my country down.
“Every time I got given the jumper, I gave it my best shot and my performances actually, when I looked back and reviewed them, I was very happy with them.
“It’s part and parcel of being a professional athlete and being in the public eye – you roll the good with the bad.”