Sam Burgess: England centre 'considering rugby league return'

Sam Burgess
Sam Burgess has won five England caps since switching to rugby union last year

England centre Sam Burgess is on the verge of quitting rugby union and has been given time off by Bath to consider a return to rugby league.

Reports in Australia suggest he is set to go back to former NRL club the South Sydney Rabbitohs less than a year after switching codes.

The 26-year-old is due to make a decision in the coming days, says BBC Radio 5 live's Alastair Eykyn.

Burgess's selection for England's World Cup squad was met with criticism.

He had only made his union debut for Premiership side Bath in November and won his first England union cap against France in August.

BBC Radio 5 live's Alastair Eykyn on Burgess
It's safe to say Sam Burgess' future lies in the balance. It will be decided in the coming days. Speculation has been rife in Australia that he's going to return to the Rabbitohs.
His brothers have both signed contract extensions with the Rabbitohs last week. We know he feels the draw of playing back with them again.
He's not been very happy and has been contemplating a move. Bath are desperately keen he stays. Any decision to leave would be a real bombshell for them.

Despite being regarded as a back-rower for his club, England head coach Stuart Lancaster selected him at centre for the recent World Cup - in which hosts England failed to progress from the group stage.

He had returned to his homeland last year, switched codes and signed with Bath, where he still has two years to run on his contract, with the aim of playing in a home World Cup.

On Tuesday, Bath head coach Mike Ford confirmed Burgess would be rested for Saturday's Premiership game with Harlequins, but rubbished reports of him leaving the club.

"It is frustrating and I think most of it is made up," Ford told BBC Radio Bristol.

"There has always been a story there with Sam and this is the latest one."

Burgess moved to Australia in 2010 after four Super League seasons with Bradford Bulls, and went on to help the Rabbitohs win the NRL title in 2014.

Sam Burgess
Sam Burgess played on with a broken cheekbone to help the South Sydney Rabbitohs win the NRL final

Burgess's brothers George and Tom, twins aged 23, have both recently signed contract extensions with South Sydney, while older brother Luke plays at Manly Warringah.

Speaking about Sam's move to union, former England scrum-half Matt Dawson told BBC Radio 5 live: "He's been let down by whoever is responsible for sowing the seed in his mind that he could achieve what he has in rugby league.

"He is one of the greatest rugby league players to ever play the game but to have the confidence, verging on arrogance, to suggest that he could do the same in a completely different game, in a decision-making position, has been shown up.

"Whether he stays or not, it is another dirty chapter in the story that is not really his making.

"If I was in his position - given the choice of being a superstar rugby league player or tried week in week out in rugby union - I know what I would do."

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