Burgess hits back at Ford

Date published: November 11 2015

Sam Burgess has dismissed criticism from Bath head coach Mike Ford, upon his arrival back in Australia where he will continue his rugby league career with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Burgess was criticised by Ford for returning to rugby league just a year after he signed a three-year Bath deal.

Ford claimed Burgess "didn't have the stomach" to stay and fight for a future in rugby union.

Burgess disagreed, however, and said he could be proud of his short stint in the 15-man game.

"I went there, I met some cool people and had a great time learning a new game," the 26-year-old said at a press conference at Sydney airport. 

"I played 20, 21 games for Bath and five games for my country in a short space of time.

"Everyone is saying that is a failure but if you saw the work that went in, the commitment to get in that position, I'm proud of what I achieved.

"Mike may be a bit upset and that's fine. What did he say? That I missed my mum? Who doesn't miss their mum? I'm not afraid to say that. 

"Fordy is entitled to say what he wants but I think that's more a reflection on himself than me."

Bath captain Stuart Hooper denied Burgess an opportunity to say goodbye to his team-mates at the Premiership club, and fly-half George Ford said he had let down his fellow players.

But Burgess is adament he handled himself and the situation well, and that most of his team-mates understood.

"If I'm honest there are very few of my friends, my team-mates with both England and Bath that would question that," he added. 

"Percentage wise there might be one or two but it doesn't affect me too much. I think I handled myself extremely well."

Burgess believes he made the right decision to return to rugby league and insisted he could not see himself being anywhere other than Sydney.

"I'm here for a long time now," he said. 

"I love south Sydney. It was never in question really about looking elsewhere at any of the clubs. 

"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 was unbelievable."

He revealed that his heart was not in rugby union and he did not feel the same passion for the game as league.  

Burgess also said he feared he did not have enough time in his career to learn the skills he needed toplay at the highest levels in union.

"I have no regrets about going, and no regrets about coming back," he added. 

"You have a very short space of time to play professional sport at the top level. I was going to play as a flanker in rugby union and some of the skills you need in the game I have never done in my life. 

"It was going to take 18 months to nail that down and play at the top level, and by then I was going to be 28, 29. 

"I had to weigh up what was in my heart. If it had been union I was probably have finished my career there, but I wanted to come back and finish what we had started in rugby league, in Australia, and in south Sydney."