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Sam Burgess: ‘I totally lost myself’ as the former Souths star opens up on retirement and drug use

Sam Burgess reveals ‘I’ve completely lost myself’ as the former Souths star opens up about retirement, drug use and playing for a can of Coke and pie before returning to the NRL coaching ranks

  • Fallen NRL star Sam Burgess has admitted to dark days after his 2019 retirement
  • Banned by NRL for 12 weeks for drug use and also saw his marriage on the rocks
  • Burgess now coaches bush footy and will return to the NRL arena next year with Souths
  • Burgess has admitted he ‘lost himself’ with no routine, now seeking redemption

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Former NRL star Sam Burgess has admitted he “lost himself completely” after retiring in 2019 due to a chronic shoulder injury.

In a candid interview with The timesthe 33-year-old said he was struggling to adjust to a life without routine when he hung up his boots and turned down a dark path.

It included drug use and being fired from the South Sydney Rabbitohs coaching staff in 2020 amid a storm of accusations from his ex-wife Phoebe and former father-in-law Mitchell Hooke.

Hooke’s harassment conviction was eventually overturned, and no charges related to domestic violence claims followed.

Burgess then spent four weeks in a rehabilitation clinic after being detained by police in February last year while on his way to collect his children in the Southern Highlands of NSW.

Former NRL star Sam Burgess has admitted he 'lost himself completely' after retiring from sport in 2019

Former NRL star Sam Burgess has admitted he ‘lost himself completely’ after retiring from sport in 2019

The 33-year-old said he struggled to adjust to a life without routine as he hung up his boots and went down a dark path with drug use (photo, coaching in South Sydney)

The 33-year-old said he struggled to adjust to a life without routine as he hung up his boots and went down a dark path with drug use (photo, coaching in South Sydney)

The 33-year-old said he struggled to adjust to a life without routine as he hung up his boots and went down a dark path with drug use (photo, coaching in South Sydney)

Traces of cocaine were found in his system, and Burgess thought the constant media attention and scrutiny that followed was excessive.

“At that time I was completely lost,” Burgess told The Times.

“At first I found retirement much harder than expected and I had so many other things in my life that were plastered in the press here, a lot of it wasn’t true, and for a while I found it very difficult to sort it out.

‘I felt trapped. I had cameras outside my house. I couldn’t leave. I wasn’t doing what I had been doing for the past ten years, playing and competing. I just found it really hard to deal with, much more than I expected.’

At a crossroads in life, Burgess took an unusual route on the advice of Hollywood actor and close friend Russell Crowe.

The South Sydney co-owner suggested the champion lock forward coach give the Orara Valley Axemen, in northern NSW, back to the sport that made him a star.

South Sydney co-owner Russell Crowe suggested the championship lock-up coach, the Orara Valley Axemen, in northern NSW (Burgess is pictured with Wayne Bennett)

South Sydney co-owner Russell Crowe suggested the coach of the championship lock, the Orara Valley Axemen, in northern NSW (Burgess is pictured with Wayne Bennett)

South Sydney co-owner Russell Crowe suggested the coach of the championship lock, the Orara Valley Axemen, in northern NSW (Burgess is pictured with Wayne Bennett)

1662180092 143 Sam Burgess I totally lost myself as the former Souths

1662180092 143 Sam Burgess I totally lost myself as the former Souths

In a far cry from when Burgess was one of the NRL’s biggest earners, his “pay” this season most weeks has been a can of Coke and a meat pie.

On Sunday, Axemen van Burgess take on South Grafton in their Rugby League Grand Final

On Sunday, Axemen van Burgess take on South Grafton in their Rugby League Grand Final

On Sunday, Axemen van Burgess take on South Grafton in their Rugby League Grand Final

Burgess was all-in and his “payment” this season was a meat pie and a can of Coke from the cafeteria every week.

This Sunday, Burgess’ Axemen face South Grafton in their grand final.

He has enjoyed his return to basic football, and Burgess – who also played for England in a Rugby World Cup in 2015 – said it reminded him of his formative years with British club Dewsbury Moor.

Burgess will return to South Sydney next year after turning down an offer to join the coaching staff of Wayne Bennett with the Dolphins, who will enter the NRL in March as the game’s newest franchise.

He is looking forward to life at Redfern as they prepare for the November season.

“I’m probably in a better position to go back to a high-performance environment now,” he said.

‘I learned so much about coaching and management styles. It has given me a place to come and learn and be myself, make mistakes and try to be successful from the headlights.”

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