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Page last updated at 17:30 GMT, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 18:30 UK

Burgess makes switch to Australia

Sam Burgess
Burgess is regarded as one of the brightest young talents in the game

Bradford and England forward Sam Burgess has confirmed his switch to Australia's NRL after signing a four-year deal with South Sydney Rabbitohs.

The Bulls have received an undisclosed fee for the 20-year-old, who will join his international team-mate Gareth Ellis in the NRL.

Burgess made his first-team debut in 2006 and played 79 games for the Bulls.

"It's a good deal for both myself and the Bulls and I have really enjoyed my time at the club," said Burgess.

The prop or back-rower was pursued by a host of other NRL sides, but is understood to have been swayed by a face-to-face meeting with actor Russell Crowe, who has a controlling interest in the Rabbitohs.

Burgess will line up alongside the likes of Roy Asotasi, David Kidwell, Isaac Luke and Craig Wing at the Rabbitohs.

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"Whilst I am excited about the prospect of playing in Australia it has been a tough decision to make," Burgess told BBC Radio Leeds.

"I have been at Bradford since I was 14 and have many friends at the club - but playing in Australia has been an ambition since I was 15 and I am delighted that Souths have given me the opportunity to open a new chapter in my life."

Burgess was under contract with Bradford until the end of the 2010 season and the club will have first refusal on re-signing him, if and when he decides to return to the British game.

"I am who I am today because of the Bradford systems that I have been in, because of the coaches and all the people at the club," he added.

"(Head coach) Steve McNamara in particular, has been a massive influence on my career.

"They have all been very influential, both for myself and my career and I won't be turning my back on them because further down the line I'd like to think I may come back one day."

Bradford have endured a disappointing season by their standards, failing to make the end-of-season play-offs for the first time, but the club remain hopeful that they can tempt Burgess back at some point in the future.

"It goes without saying that we are all extremely disappointed to be losing a player whose potential to become one of the greats of the modern game is universally acknowledged," said Bulls chairman Peter Hood.

"We did everything we reasonably could to persuade him to stay but, to be fair to Sam, he has never made any secret of his determination to test himself in the NRL at the earliest opportunity.

Sam has been a huge asset to Bradford Bulls both on and off the field and a credit to the English game

Bradford chairman Peter Hood

"We were left in no doubt that Sam would walk free at the end of next season and, that being the case, it was simply a question doing the right thing in the overall best interests of the club."

Burgess was a carer for his late father Mark, during his struggle with motor neurone disease, and has impressed many in the game with his maturity.

"Sam has been a huge asset to Bradford Bulls both on and off the field and a credit to the English game," added Hood.

"He will be a great ambassador for us and we wish him every success with South Sydney - until such time as we can welcome him home as a Bradford Bull once more."

Burgess has established himself as one of the brightest young talents in the sport, winning the Young Player of the Year award in 2007.

He has also proved capable on the international stage for both Great Britain and England, but missed the 2008 World Cup through injury.

Burgess, whose brother Luke plays for Leeds Rhinos, will play for England in the end-of-season Four Nations series before linking up with his new club.



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