England’s 2015 World Cup star Sam Burgess has opened up on how his life spiralled out of control after his injury-enforced retirement from rugby league in 2019.
Burgess, who played league in Australia with the Sydney Rabbitohs before switching to union and playing for Bath and England, made the admission during an episode of TV show SAS Australia.
As part of the show, celebrities are put through a series of physical and psychological tests from the real Special Air Services selection process.
The 32-year-old Burgess is regarded as one of the greatest rugby league players of his generation. After switching to union in 2014, he played five Tests for England in 2015 and was included in their World Cup squad.
He then returned to rugby league with the Rabbitohs, but was forced to bring his illustrious 182-game NRL career to an end in 2019 after developing arthritis in his shoulder.
During a tense interrogation segment on the show, Burgess admitted that he had an affair that led to the breakdown of his marriage.
— SAS Australia on 7 (@sasaustralia) September 13, 2021
“I don’t think I was the greatest husband at times. I embarrassed my wife,” he said. “Yeah, I had an affair with a woman in Melbourne. That’s true.
“I was away on tour and, regretfully, that happened. That would have been a tough place for Phoebe to be.
“Anything to do with my team, myself, stress outside of football, press – I don’t mind that. But when it came to the emotional stuff of losing my two kids, who I was seeing every day, my marriage breaking down and that put pressure on my ex-wife – I didn’t like that.
“I hated that I’d caused pain for other people that I couldn’t manage.”
Burgess did return to the Rabbitohs as a co-coach for the team’s youth side. However, he was forced to step down from his role after police investigated allegations made against him.
“I was coaching and we started to do well – I got given a head-coaching role but a lot of things were put in the press by my ex-wife and ex-father-in-law,” he said. “Consequently, I had to stand down from both my roles so I lost it all again.
“Since then, there is a police investigation into me about some behaviour that she has claimed.
“In that time, I totally lost myself a bit. I turned to drinking, I was taking drugs.
“I thought I could manage that but it got to the point where I got pulled with drugs in my system.
“It was all over the press again and she stopped me seeing my kids again.
“I checked myself into rehab. I have lost it all.”