An exchange of text messages between South Sydney coach Michael Maguire and Sam Burgess during the 2015 NRL grand final was the catalyst for the dual-international’s return.
The Rabbitohs confirmed on Friday morning the 26-year-old would return for the 2016 season on a three-year deal, putting an end to Burgess’ wretched 12-month stint in rugby union.
Burgess bore the brunt of blame for England’s disappointing Rugby World Cup campaign, but Rabbitohs CEO John Lee says it was Burgess’ love of rugby league which brought him back to the code.
“What sparked this whole idea of a possible comeback was the grand final between the Cowboys and the Broncos,” Lee told Sky Sports Radio.
“There was Madge (South Sydney coach Michael Maguire) watching the game at home and there was texting going on between Sam and Madge about what a great grand final it was this year, and in some ways the regret that we weren’t there fighting for back to back.
“From those text messages led to a few conversations and then conversations led to some concreting ideas to bring Sam home.”
Burgess played five Test matches for England and made 26 appearances for club side Bath, however it is in rugby league where the forward has made his name.
He claimed the 2014 Clive Churchill Medal in the Rabbitohs drought-breaking premiership, and was dearly missed by the club as their season fell away while lacking power up front in 2015.
“I could not be happier to see Sam coming home to the Rabbitohs,” Maguire said in a statement.
“He had an enormously positive impact on our club, both on and off the field, throughout the five seasons he was here, and to be bringing back one of the game’s most dominant players is fantastic for not only our club, but the game itself.
“He will add starch to our forward pack, and he will bring his leadership qualities to the team as well.
“The next chapter is for him to return to the game he was born to play, and we’re over the moon that he is coming.”
Burgess also thanked Bath, who reportedly charged Souths STG750,000 ($A1.61 million) for his release, in the statement.
“I want to thank everyone at England Rugby and Bath for some great memories over the last 12 months,” Burgess said in a statement.
“I must also thank Bath especially for granting my release to return home to my family who I have missed more than I could have imagined.
“I am also extremely excited to be joining back up with South Sydney. I cannot wait to get back into the Rabbitohs’ culture, full of great people and passionate members and supporters.”