Sam Burgess lacked stomach for Bath fight - Mike Ford

Mike Ford and Sam Burgess
Mike Ford saw Sam Burgess as a back-row forward in rugby union despite him playing at centre for England

Sam Burgess "didn't have the stomach" to fight for his future in rugby union, says Bath head coach Mike Ford.

Cross-code convert Burgess left Bath after only one year of a three-year deal to re-join Australian rugby league side South Sydney Rabbitohs last week.

Burgess, 26, said his "heart wasn't in" rugby union.

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Sam Burgess: 'I was always a league player in union'

"For me this was the time to roll his sleeves up and become the player that I thought he could be and he chose not to," said Ford.

"It wasn't until the final talk I had with him that I felt there was nothing more I could do.

"But I did speak to him about that and about what a fantastic player he could be, and about the investment the club and the players had made in him, and that it was time to repay that.

"But he chose differently."

I miss my mum - Burgess

Told about Ford's comments at a Rabbitohs news conference after his arrival in Sydney on Tuesday, Burgess said: "Mike might 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 what he wants to say. It is more a reflection on him than me."

The former Bradford Bulls player insisted he would be at South Sydney "for a long time now".

He added: "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."

'A lot of lads would die for this club'

Burgess revealed that Bath captain Stuart Hooper prevented the former England centre from addressing the squad after opting to leave - a decision Ford defended.

Bath and England fly-half George Ford - the head coach's son - said the team did not not want an added distraction before last weekend's Premiership game against London Irish, which they won 45-14.

"A lot of lads would die for this club," George Ford told BBC Points West.

"A lot of lads have been here since they were young, coming up through the academy, and have served this club for as long as they can and for someone to come in and not maybe do the same thing upset a few lads.

"It was a great decision by Stuart as we wanted to focus our energy into putting in a good performance against London Irish."

George Ford and Sam Burgess
George Ford said Burgess's decision had upset his Bath team-mates

Rapid replacement

Bath moved quickly to replace Burgess, who played at flanker for the club and inside centre for England, by signing Scotland back-rower David Denton from Edinburgh.

Head coach Ford said it was a "fair" assessment to say Denton's arrival left Bath in a stronger position.

"Everyone's seen Sam's interview and his heart's not in it any more, so when someone's like that you're better off having someone in who wants to be here," he added.

"I wasn't surprised with what Sam said because he's talked to me along the way."

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