Sam Burgess: Leeds Rhinos keen on deal, says Gary Hetherington

Sam Burgess
Sam Burgess featured in three of England's four pool games at the World Cup

Super League champions Leeds Rhinos would bid for Sam Burgess if he were made available by union side Bath, says chief executive Gary Hetherington.

Burgess, 26, took time off to contemplate his future after criticism of his role in England's World Cup campaign, before returning to Bath.

He has been heavily linked with a move back to former club South Sydney Rabbitohs in the National Rugby League.

"We have registered an interest," Hetherington told BBC Sport.

"We are fully aware that he is contracted to Bath, but we are waiting in the wings if Bath allow him to speak to clubs.

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"Any Super League club or NRL would be interested in a player like Sam.

"Sam may well remain at Bath or go back to Souths, but if he was available, and we recognise that a transfer fee would be required, we are keen."

Bath coach Mike Ford remains confident that he can persuade the Dewsbury-born forward to stay at the Premiership club and continue his development as a union player.

"Sam's frame of mind since he's come back has been brilliant. He's come in and cracked on and has trained very well for these couple of days," said Ford on Tuesday.

He told BBC Radio Bristol: "Sam attracts media attention, we can handle it, we laugh about it at times. Nothing's changed."

Sam Burgess
Sam Burgess' final game for Souths was the 2014 Grand Final, which he won the Clive Churchill Medal for man of the match and helped end the club's 43-year title wait

One stumbling block that could delay any return to the Rabbitohs is the salary cap which would need to accommodate Burgess' pay, as their recruitment has largely been completed for 2016.

Leeds have the ability to offset £175,000 of any potential annual salary away from the Super League salary cap, under the new Marquee Player Rule.

"Yes he would [be suited to that], we supported the principle of a marquee player system," Hetherington added.

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"However, we always said it was unlikely we'd take up the option unless they were exceptional, and Burgess falls into that exceptional bracket."

The former Bradford Bulls forward left for Australia at the start of 2010 and was part of a quartet of Burgess brothers at Souths until the end of the 2014 season.

After helping Souths win their first NRL title for 43 years, Burgess switched to Bath.

Twins Thomas and George remain contracted to Souths, and the former told BBC Sport on Sunday that Sam was "at a crossroads" regarding his future, while oldest brother Luke now plays for Manly.

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