Burgess: Union stint made me stronger

Sam Burgess says he has returned to rugby league a lot mentally tougher after his controversial stint in rugby union.

Burgess is preparing for the start of the NRL season this weekend.

The South Sydney forward told The Sydney Morning Herald he learned plenty about dealing with pressure while in the 15-man code.

“The politics in the game are far more than you find in this game and you learn that as a player,” Burgess said.

“It was a great life experience and I learned some life skills dealing with different characters and a lot of people who had different agendas, people who you think are on your side but are then pulling the other way in the media.

“It is the first time I have really experienced that and that overall was a great thing to learn on, and a great thing to have to deal with all the time.”

“To start a new game from the ground up was a great challenge and I had to get an unbelievably strong mindset to forget everything I had done for the last 20 years in league.

“There were about 1000 new things to learn and to do it all in the speed in which I wanted to do it took a hell of a lot of dedication. A lot of people don’t see all the work that goes into it.

“To have people saying and the way it got reported in the media, that I had failed and all of this sort of stuff, that I didn’t do very well … I am actually very proud of the way I performed in the World Cup.

“At the time it was a very hot topic but as I get older and reflect on what I did in union I will continue to be proud of my achievements and the way I carried myself over there.

“The comments made by people when I left … it is comical when I think about it. They show a lot more emotion in the media than we do over here so it was a great learning curve and a fantastic time, and I look back now with a smile on my face when I talk about it.

“There was a lot of pressure in England, I can tell you that. There was pressure on the inside. There is no pressure on the inside here, my teammates, the coaching staff and the staff in the office are amazing.

“For me this is the best job in the world so the pressure has certainly died down for me. Going away and being outside of it you look and appreciate a lot more being in and around this environment.

“Not that I didn’t before but you do have days when you think it is tough and everything like that. I always knew that what we had created here at South Sydney was quite special but I really like life experiences and I want as many experiences as I can in sport so I would have kicked myself if I didn’t do it, and if I didn’t do it then I would be thinking about doing it now.”

Burgess says he has returned to rugby league heavier than before – weighing in at 116kg.

“I worked a lot on speed and athleticism and I got to spend a lot of time in the gym not being as fatigued and as sore as you usually are in league,” he said.

“I am a little bit bigger, certainly my legs and backside are. I  am a couple of kilos heavier but I am feeling good and looking forward to the start of the season.”

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