Sam Burgess believes his controversial 12-month stint in rugby union has made him a better player as he prepares for his return to the NRL.
Burgess arrived back in Sydney early on Wednesday morning and fronted a press conference at Sydney Airport to answer questions about his return to South Sydney.
The 26-year-old said in his time with the 15-a-side code, which culminated with England’s unceremonious exit from the Rugby World Cup in the pool rounds, he learned a lot about himself as a player.
“It is different training to what I’ve done in the backline and as a forward in rugby union, so I think it improves me as an athlete all round.
“I enjoyed the sport but I think deep down rugby league gave me something different to rugby union.
“It’s not a mock of rugby union at all, because I certainly respect what the players go through, but I think personally I just play with passion and heart, so the sooner I got back it was probably the best.”
Burgess said he had always felt like a rugby league player in the rival code.
“I was always a league player in union, I don’t think that ever changes. I felt really comfortable in the environment, but it’s just the perception, how you’re portrayed by the media and whatever.”
The dual international has signed a three-year contract with Souths. He said he never considered going to another NRL club and that he wanted to commit to Redfern long-term.
“I would find it very hard to put a different shirt on. I love this club, the experience I had here over the five seasons I played are unbelievable,” he said.
“I watched Souths very closely. Our schedule over there meant it was very hard to keep up with it live.
“I think a few guys left last year … but it’s been great watching players grow. Greg (Inglis) and John (Sutton), Luke Keary have all stepped up in certain areas of the game. I’m really looking forward to just stepping in amongst the guys.”