There have been growing rumours that Bath centre Sam Burgess could be close to pushing for a move back to the NRL with the Manly Sea Eagles. The speculation comes despite the former rugby league star being on the cusp of a call up to the England rugby union squad ahead of this year's World Cup.
Burgess has been fast tracked by the England setup since his switch from South Sydney with a view to the 26-year-old being involved in the 2015 World Cup. But the NRL has been put on alert following rumours the Englishman is missing his Australian-based family and weighing up a return Down Under.
Burgess has made a solid if unspectacular start to life in rugby union for Bath in the Aviva Premiership. But England still handed the centre the chance to link up with the squad during the Six Nations, in which Stuart Lancaster’s squad are heading into the final round at 8/11 for the title at the time of writing in the rugby odds with bet365 despite a slow start.
While there was never any real chance of Burgess being named in England's Six Nations squad, being invited to train with the squad ahead of the final match of the tournament shows the cross-code star is still very much in Lancaster's thoughts ahead of this year's World Cup.
But a lot can change between now and September, not least Burgess switching back to rugby league and returning to the NRL. The Manly Sea Eagles have reportedly set their sights on Burgess and could be set to take advantage of the Englishman's tough start to life in rugby union. They could offer him a huge deal to return to the NRL.
The Sea Eagles are in a strong position due to the presence of CEO Joe Kelly, who worked with Burgess from his time as South Sydney's chief operating officer. The Rabbitohs still have first option on the Yorkshireman if he does decide to return to the NRL but South Sydney will not be able to accommodate Burgess in their already-stretched wage structure. That comes as a result of the signings of Glenn Stewart and Tim Grant, not to mention the new contracts handed to Dylan Walker, Adam Reynolds, Luke Keary and a host of other players who helped the club to the title last year.
The Sea Eagles have more than enough room to fit Burgess into their squad if he came back to the 13-man game. They also have a strong history of British forwards coming over and becoming huge stars. Mal Reilly, Phil Lowe, Kevin Ward and Steve Norton all enjoyed plenty of success in Manly and there is no doubt Burgess would fit extremely well into how the Sea Eagles play. Manly are looking to pack their squad with some world-class talent ahead of another push at the NRL title. After coming so close to the crown last season, the Sea Eagles have been focusing on strengthening their forwards and the signing of Burgess would be a huge statement of intent to the rest of the NRL.
As it stands, though, Burgess is still publicly insisting he is focused on making a success of himself in the 15-man game.