South Sydney coach Michael Maguire has declared Sam Burgess has returned to the club a hungrier player and better person after his ill-fated stint in English rugby union.
A critical part of the Rabbitohs’ 2014 drought-breaking NRL title-winning side, power forward Burgess has returned to the NRL after one season.
Burgess broke into the England side for the 2015 Rugby World Cup as a centre, but didn’t have anywhere near the impact he had as a barnstorming league forward.
The Englishman is clearly thirsting for more success in rugby league after again linking with Souths and making his presence felt with the Rabbitohs.
“He’s a real positive man and a big presence,” Maguire said of Burgess on Wednesday.
“He’s definitely brought that, but I think he’s brought a big hunger.
“He’s been through a lot himself in what he’s endured, but what that’s gained now is a lot of experience in who he is as a person.
“We know he’s such a positive influence not only on the field but off the field.
“But I think the learnings he had since he’s been away have brought him back as a better person.”
Maguire wouldn’t commit to when Burgess would have his first pre-season hitout.
“We want to make sure his body is in the right shape for rugby league, so we’ll just monitor that daily and then work out when we’re going to play him,” Maguire said.
He was keen to put to bed a spat between club co-owner and movie star Russell Crowe and Rabbitohs playmaker Luke Keary.
Crowe has apologised for berating five-eighth Keary during a team bonding session last month and took to social media to accept the blame after the Seven Network reported the player stormed out of the actor’s Coffs Harbour property.
“Luke Keary situation entirely my fault,” Crowe tweeted on Wednesday.
“A bit of banter that went too far. I’ve apologised.”
Maguire downplayed the incident.
“There’s been talk about him (Keary) having a discussion with our owner, but two men chatting to each other, that’s all part of what goes on in any organisation,” Maguire said.
The normally earnest Maguire did at least find a grain of humour in the situation.
“He (Keary) was probably a bit smart. He didn’t have to go through a nine-hour bus ride to go home – he went and jumped on a plane, so good on him,” Maguire said.