Sam Burgess has opened up about his reasons for leaving rugby union and returning to rugby league, and has confirmed that comments from ex-union players did affect his decision.
“That was an upsetting factor to me; that people who are supposed to love the game are actually tearing it to shreds,” he wrote, in a column for The Daily Mail.
“I felt like certain people didn’t want England and Stuart Lancaster to succeed. They were after him — so aggressively. He could never do a thing right, no matter what. I was right in the middle of that and it is unbelievable. It’s not a productive place to be.
“Some ex-players just kept letting rip. It was a losing battle from day one. I couldn’t believe it. It’s almost like they don’t want anyone else to do well in the jersey.
“That’s definitely the feeling I got in rugby union. And since the tournament, there have been players coming out in the press, leaking stories.
“I find that really disappointing and I didn’t want to stay in a sport like that. It makes it harder to build on when people from the inside are crumbling.”
Used by many observers as an easy option for blame, Burgess also confirmed that union never worked its way into his affections as a sport, unlike league.
The 15-man code never tested Burgess to the physical and mental limits that league had done.
“My decision to leave Bath and move back to Australia was for personal reasons, but it was also because I wanted to spend the rest of my career playing the game that’s in my heart,” he added.
“Rugby league is in my heart. I’m looking forward to getting back to Sydney, where I’ll be with my family and playing for the Rabbitohs alongside my brothers again.”