Bath rugby coach Mike Ford says he’s certain Sam Burgess will stick with the 15-man code despite the former league star telling him he “didn’t quite feel right” after the World Cup.
Burgess, who has two years left on his contract with the Premiership runners-up, has taken a break in Spain to ponder his future with reports stating a return to NRL club South Sydney is under serious consideration.
The 26-year-old was a controversial selection for England’s World Cup squad, with his presence understood to have been a divisive issue among players due to his lack of union experience.
He has not been involved in Bath’s two Premiership matches so far this season and Ford confirms he has been given time off ahead of his expected return next week to the Recreation Ground.
“Last week, Sam came back into training because, initially, that’s what he wanted but then he did and he didn’t quite feel right,” Ford told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.
“We decided to give him time off there and then, which means that he’s gone away to get refreshed and will be back in training on November 2.
“There are no dramas here. Everyone has put two and two together, seen him sitting next to (England rugby league coach) Steve McNamara, watching his brother play rugby league.”
When asked if he was 100 per cent certain Burgess would stay at Bath, Ford said: “Yes, I’ve spoken to Sam many times. We’ve talked about him coming back to Bath, rolling up his sleeves up and playing six for us.”
Earlier, McNamara said he was convinced the 26-year-old would eventually return to rugby league – but wasn’t sure when.
“The reason I am confident of him coming back is all his family’s in Australia; he’s getting married to a girl who’s Australian; he’s got business interests in Australia,” McNamara said.
“For me, it’s just common sense that at some point he’ll come back but, when that is, he’ll determine that.”
Burgess left the NRL at the end of the 2014 season after playing a leading role in the Rabbitohs’ drought-breaking premiership win to pursue a career in rugby.
But he endured a disappointing Rugby World Cup campaign as England failed to progress past the pool stage.
Last week, twins Tom and George Burgess committed to the Rabbitohs until the end of the 2018 season, propelling suggestions Sam could return to the club to play alongside them again.
The Rabbitohs have the first and last right of offer if Burgess wishes to return to the game in Australia, and the NRL confirmed on Wednesday any transfer fee paid to Bath by Souths would not be included in their salary cap.
Souths declined to comment on Sam Burgess’ possible recruitment when contacted.
Ford said he felt Burgess could have a long rugby future in the No.6 jersey at domestic and international level but he just needed more time.
“The plan is for him to come back to training on Monday and we can’t wait to have him back,” Ford said.