How much did Sam Burgess cost rugby union? Highest-paid player in Premiership leaves Bath for South Sydney Rabbitohs

Joe Hall
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Sam Burgess England rugby union
Sam Burgess appears to have played for the England rugby union team for the last time (Source: Getty)

Sam Burgess has returned to rugby league and the South Sydney Rabbitohs after an ill-fated but lucrative year in rugby union.

The England international will move to Australia to reunite with his family and a club where he is worshipped as a hero, yet questions will still be asked why the union establishment failed to make his conversion a success - especially considering the financial investments made in the player.

It is a sign of the widespread faith in Burgess' powers that he leaves one sport as his league's highest-paid player and is automatically assigned the same status in another.

Read more: Rugby's 10 highest-paid players

The 26-year-old is believed to have been paid around £500,000 by Bath, more than any other player in the Aviva Premiership last season.

Bath also stumped up the initial transfer fee of over £270,000 to prise him away from South Sydney last year - taking owner Bruce Craig's outlay on the cross-code player to almost £800,000.

On top that, Burgess will have made over £100,000 from his five appearances for England.

Each of his five caps for England will have earned him a £15,000 match fee from the RFU and he will also have picked up £38,332 from the £1.19m World Cup bonus distributed amongst Stuart Lancaster's squad.

In total, Burgess' rugby union career came at a cost of around £880,000 to those involved - although Bath are believed to have recouped their money from the South Sydney Rabbitohs.

Reports in Australia suggest the Rabbitohs will now make Burgess the NRL's highest-paid player with an annual salary worth £700,000.

Burgess is adored at South Sydney where he helped secure the club's first NRL title in 43 years and became the first non-Australian to win man-of-the-match in the Grand Final after playing for the duration with a smashed cheekbone in 2014.

In contrast, his career in union was hampered by a dispute between his coaches at Bath and England over his best position.

Although he picked up man-of-the-match awards playing as a flanker in the Premiership, England insisted on playing him at inside centre during the World Cup.

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