Revealed: Burgess’ bombshell NRL comeback bid
An 11th hour backflip has stopped Rabbitohs powerhouse Sam Burgess from making a sensational comeback to the NRL.
Burgess returned to the Rabbitohs' bubble shortly after the season resumed to train alongside teammates and was encouraged enough to begin exploring a secret return to the game.
Just when it looked likely, though, the former Rabbitohs enforcer had a rethink.
"It has crossed my mind," Burgess said yesterday. "But, when I look at it, it's just my ego that is wanting it."
Burgess has trained daily with his former teammates since returning to the Rabbitohs' bubble and was encouraged enough by his fitness and performance to believe a comeback was possible.
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Working with the coaching staff also gave him a different outlook on the game he was sure would benefit his game on the field.
In the end, there were simply too many complications, on top of the nagging worry over the ability of his troublesome shoulder, which forced his medical retirement, to risk a return.
Other "complexities" also proved difficult, including how Burgess would fit under the salary cap and what that would mean for his medical retirement payout, where he was paid out his contract in full after being considered unfit to continue.
He was willing to take a development contract simply to get on the field but there would have been little appetite from the NRL to register him on minimum wage, which would have surely created an outcry among rival clubs.
At the very least Burgess would have been subject to a notional contract value which would have defeated its purpose as far as the salary cap is concerned.
Burgess said it was a short-lived dream.
"I won't change my mind," he said.
MANLY POACH EELS ROOKIE
There are plenty of changes happening at Manly with a mooted trade deal now on the backburner and a "rookie" veteran expected to head to Manly.
Andrew Davey has again been rewarded with persistence with the Eels forward set to join the Sea Eagles next year.
Davey had to wait until he was 28 to make his top grade debut and did so for Parramatta earlier this year. He has shown enough in his six top grade games to come onto the attention of the Sea Eagles who are expected to land his signing. A swap deal between the Dragons for Jason Saab and Reuben Garrick is now moving towards the unlikely territory after Anthony Griffin was officially appointed Dragons coach.
Talks between the two parties progressed significantly and both players were keen on the move but the deal seems like it's off the table. This means Saab, who is contracted to the Dragons for another two years, will have to wait before making his Dragons exit.
Manly hooker Danny Levi is also on the lookout for a new club. Levi, who played his 100th first grade game recently, joined the Sea Eagles as cover for the suspended Manase Fainu. Now Fainu, who still won't be available until July at the earlier, has re-signed, Levi will need to move on.
The Sea Eagles have been linked with Kieran Foran and Luke Garner making returns to the club. Foran won a premiership at Manly in 2011 while Garner played in the club's under-20s team.
ROOSTERS' MAIN MAN
Anthony Minichiello remembers when Mitch Aubusson arrived in Sydney - he was the brother of the highly rated James.
Flash forward 13 years and Aubusson is ready to take Minichello's mantle as the most capped Rooster when he makes his 303rd first grade appearance on Saturday night.
Minichiello congratulated Aubusson during the week and will be in the crowd when the Roosters play Cronulla at the SCG. They played alongside each other in Aubusson's debut match in 2007.
"He came down from Ballina and originally all the raps were on his brother James," Minichiello said. "You look at Aubo (Aubusson) and you think he must go all right because he isn't that big, he isn't ripped and then you soon realise this guy can play nearly any position and play well in any position. He has been a strong, reliable player.
"When I think of Aubo, I think of if you want someone to get the job done and you don't want to worry about anything you put Aubo on that job. You know it's going to get done well and without hiccups."
Minichiello claimed the most games record from Luke Ricketson.
"What I'm proud about is no other club has three players to have played 300 for the one club," Minichiello said. "That's a great achievement. Ricko (Ricketson) and I are best mates and I'm really close with Aubo. It's nice being the three of us. I played with both and we are good mates who can catch up and have a laugh."
TRUTH BEHIND SHOCK AFB REQUEST
Addin Fonua-Blake's wife has hitout at claims she was the driving force behind Fonua-Blake's shock decision to request an early exit from the Sea Eagles. Fonua-Blake informed the club on Monday of his desire to get out of Sydney with the club giving him permission to negotiate with the three Queensland-based sides and the Warriors.
His wife Ana took to Instagram to dispel suggestions she wanted the move.
"I am not the reason why Addin wants to leave Manly," she said in a video. "I never gave the man an ultimatum. I didn't know much about this until Monday. I think I avoided the conversation.
"I am not the reason he is leaving Manly. All our family is based in Sydney. We do have family in New Zealand and we do have family in Brisbane. Our support system is in Sydney. We do have four kids so getting up and leaving is pretty tough
"Addin asked for a fresh start. Eventually I'll come to terms with it. Change is always a good thing."
NEW CLUB FOR DRAGON
Off-contract St George Illawarra back-rower Jacob Host has caught the attention of South Sydney. Host, 23, has had discussions with the Rabbitohs about joining the club next year. He was coached by South Sydney's development coach Ben Hornby in the Dragons lower grades and came through St George Illawarra's pathways program alongside South Sydney's Hame Sale.
Nick Kyrgios can't remember the last time he practised this much but he stopped short of saying he missed tennis. Kyrgios hasn't play a competitive much since February and it is unclear when he will take to the court again.
"I haven't been home like this for seven years," Kyrgios said. "I don't know when I'll get this time again.
"I have hit a massive reset. I needed to be home to realise it. I'm ready to go out there and play whenever I feel comfortable."
Kyrgios is leading a push to ensure the Australian Open is viable.
"I wouldn't say I miss it," Kyrgios said. "I have been playing a lot of tennis. I haven't taken the racquet out of my hands. There is a part driving me knowing the competition I'm up against. I know there is a level I have to sustain. I
"I won't miss playing, so I'll make the most of it when I'm playing. When I decide to stop I'm not going to stop."
There is little doubt the emergence of Gold Coast as Queensland's best team has surprised many - and you can count Triple M footy caller Anthony Maroon among them.
In another one of his classic gaffs, Maroon took on Titans ambassador Gorden Tallis earlier this season and bet that if the Titans won five in a row "I will get a sex change".
The bizarre challenge recently took on new life with the Titans beating St George Illawarra, Canterbury and Brisbane these past three weeks, setting the club on track for a magnificent five-match winning streak with two games to play.
The Titans have Manly on Saturday and Newcastle next week, making for a nervous countdown in the Maroon household.
Why such a bet was volunteered is unknown, but anyone who knows Maroon knows that wife Christine works for a plastic surgeon and, even in terms as dramatic as these, the opportunity for a discount, of any kind, was too good to refuse.
ALL EYES ON
What sort of performance will Parramatta dish up against the Broncos on Friday night? While the Eels are entrenched in the top eight they need to get their season back on track with a big win against the hapless Brisbane and ensure they remain in the top four. They play Brisbane before taking on the Tigers so they need to regain confidence before entering the finals.
There was no ninth place finish for the Tigers back in 2010. The Tigers were celebrating a 26-24 win against the Raiders in Canberra on this day 10 years ago to be one win from making a grand final appearance. Jarrod Croker missed a penalty goal with four minutes left which would have most likely sent the match into golden point.
BLAST FROM THE PAST: LUKE O'DWYER
(26 first grade games for Parramatta, 101 for Gold Coast from 2004-13)
It was a whirlwind few months for Luke O'Dwyer before he made his NRL debut. He was plucked from virtual obscurity to join the Eels on a pre-season season train and trial contract. O'Dwyer had played a handful games of Queensland Cup for Tweed Heads Seagulls when he came to the attention of Parramatta coach Brian Smith.
As part of a feeder arrangement between the Seagulls and the Eels, Smith offered one pre-season deal to a player of his choosing and in this case it was O'Dwyer.
A few weeks later he was playing off the bench for Parramatta against Brisbane in their round two clash.
"Brian asked me to play in the first trial," O'Dwyer said. "At the end of the game, I was walking off the field and he told me he wanted me in the top squad. I packed everything I had and moved to Sydney."
The shock departure of Jamie Lyon from the Eels after just one game opened the door for O'Dwyer to play first grade.
Injury restricted him to just seven games in his first season but he was rewarded with another one-year deal. In 2005 it was announced the Titans would be formally added to the competition in 2007 and a chance to return home was too good of an opportunity for O'Dwyer as he became one of the inaugural Gold Coast signings.
"Brian was great about that," O'Dwyer said. "He knew that's where I was originally from. When I signed with the Titans he gave me an interim deal in 2006."
A pre-season ankle injury robbed O'Dwyer, who switched his time between the back-row and centre, of featuring in the Titans first match but he eventually made his club debut in round 15.
O'Dwyer, who works as a general manager of a division of TripADeal, brought up his 100th club game in his second last match but his final game was soured by a serious knee injury, rupturing his ACL playing against the Cowboys in Townsville.
"It was a big decision to call time on my career," O'Dwyer said. "Because of what happened it was a weight lifted off my shoulders even though it wasn't a fairytale send off.
"As much as it was disappointing to finish on that note I am just glad I made a call prior to it happening."
Originally published as Revealed: Burgess' bombshell NRL comeback bid