NRL star Sam Burgess has been spotted on the Gold Coast with a bodybuilding minister from an evangelical church as he tries to overcome his troubled recent past.
Burgess looked happy and relaxed in dark sunglasses and a sleeveless, muscular T-shirt as he walked to a Metro Church-registered Hyundai hatchback after getting coffee at a Nobby’s Beach cafe.
The 32-year-old has spent time training with friend and spiritual adviser, Rob Quatro, who introduced him to the Pentecostal faith, although Burgess is only an interested bystander at this stage.
Quatro is a well-known fitness trainer who has won international titles in bodybuilding and powerlifting, as well as a pastor at the church.
The former Rabbitohs star fled Sydney to Queensland shortly after being cleared of harassment of his former father-in-law Mitch Hooke on appeal.
The former NRL enforcer grabbed a cup of coffee from a Nobby’s Beach cafe on the Gold Coast
Burgess was with Rob Quatro, a friend and pastor of Gold’s Coast’s Metro Church
That court ruling came after 18 months of turmoil in his life in which Burgess was separated from his wife Phoebe and forced to retire in October 2019 due to a chronic shoulder injury.
The 32-year-old will appear in a different court in May after allegedly being discovered driving with cocaine in his system while on his way to pick up his children from Bowral on February 22.
He reportedly was unlicensed while behind the wheel of his BMW X5, which was not registered because he had not paid $ 1,200 in parking and traffic fines.
Burgess has told friends that he is on the Gold Coast to get ‘out of the hustle and bustle’ of Sydney as he tries to ‘improve himself with a few things’ and make changes in his life.
He attended a service at the church last Sunday, but would be more interested in his personal development than becoming a permanent member of an organized religion.
Rob Quatro has won international titles in bodybuilding and powerlifting
Quatro (right), pictured with Gold Coast singer Stan Walker, is also a Pentecostal pastor
Quatro on stage at Metro Church, Gold Coast, where he is a regular speaker at services
Quatro has his own story of redemption, after losing his father when he was 15 and falling into severe alcohol and drug abuse when his life got out of hand.
A friend introduced him to bodybuilding when he was 17 and he changed his life.
Burgess met Quatro, a once-boxer, through sports circles and they became good friends. He trained with Quatro and sought spiritual advice.
The dual-code international was not known to be religious in the past, but has taken his grandmother to Sunday church services in Coogee in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
Daily Mail Australia revealed Burgess’s connection to the Metro Church, located in Varsity Lakes, after a member of the congregation posted an Instagram photo of himself with the 2014 grand finale.
Burgess looked happy and relaxed after escaping the hustle and bustle of Sydney
Burgess’ Gold Coast journey followed 18 months of turmoil and drama in his life
The Metro Church has been contacted for comment on its relationship with Burgess.
The senior pastors, Dave and Jenny Gilpin, originally founded Hope City Church in South Yorkshire in 1991 in response to the Hillsborough disaster at Liverpool Football Club.
The Burgess clan is from Dewsbury, South Yorkshire, but there is no family connection.
Daily Mail Australia may reveal that the Gilpins were involved in a racism row in England in 2020, forcing them to resign from the Hope City Church they founded.
An internal report from Hope City Church found it was managed in such a way that it wouldn’t appear ‘too black’.
Controversy erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death while he was arrested in Minneapolis and the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests in the US.
Dave and Jenny Gilpin returned to Australia in 2020 after a racism controversy in the UK
Burgess attended a Metro Church service on the Gold Coast during his escape from Sydney
The report noted “some notable cases where people of color felt deliberately discriminated against on the basis of race,” including being banned from senior positions in the Church.
Mr. Gilpin later responded on the Church’s YouTube channel, saying, “I have always had the vision to create a diverse, multicultural church.”
“Because we had fewer whites in Sheffield, I tried to make the Church more attractive to what whites wanted. I have realized for the past week that this is completely racist.
“That I have contributed and added to generations and centuries of racism around the Earth, and that I have hurt many people in the past and present, I am deeply sorry.”
‘I want to learn, I want to listen, I want to work with people around me to make things better.’
Shortly after their discharge, the Gilpins returned to Australia and were appointed senior pastors at the Metro Church, founded on the Gold Coast in 2006 by Garry and Kasey McDonald.
As the church website describes the move: “Fresh Air Fresh Start Fresh Future.”
“It hasn’t been long since we felt our heart from the other side of the Earth (the UK) to move to the Gold Coast,” the Gilpins write on the site.