Sam Burgess: England forward wins RLIF international award

Sam Burgess
Burgess helped South Sydney to the NRL premiership for the first time in 43 years

Rugby union-bound Sam Burgess is the first English player to win the Rugby League International Federation's International Player of the Year award.

Burgess ended his spell in rugby league by helping South Sydney Rabbitohs to a first NRL title since 1971 with victory against Canterbury Bulldogs.

The England forward, 25, will link up with Bath later this month.

England's James Graham and Daryl Clark, plus Dally M winnersexternal-link Johnathan Thurston and Jarryd Hayne, were also nominated.

It has been a productive season for Burgess, with the premiership success backed up by the Clive Churchill Medal award for man of the match in the Grand Final, in spite of the fractured cheekbone and eye socket he suffered in the opening seconds of the match.

Awards for Burgess in 2014
Dally M Lock-Forward of the Year - best NRL player in his position
NRL title - with South Sydney Rabbitohs
Clive Churchill Medal - man of the match in NRL Grand Final

That injury has delayed his return to England but also meant he was able to collect the award in person at the ceremony in Brisbane.

"Sam was wonderful for England in the World Cup last year and his performances for South Sydney through the National Rugby League season were first class," RLIF chairman Nigel Wood said.

"He is a worthy recipient and deserves to be recognised for his achievements over the past year on the international stage as well as in the NRL competition."

RLIF International Player of the Year winners
2008: Billy Slater (Australia)2012: Cameron Smith (Australia)
2009: Jarryd Hayne (Australia)2013: Sonny Bill Williams (New Zealand),
2010: Todd Carney (Australia)2014: Sam Burgess (England)
2011: Billy Slater (Australia)