Sam Burgess has left the Sydney Rabbitohs as the embattled NRL club suffers from allegations that coach Jason Demetriou has divided the team by giving preferential treatment to two of the team’s biggest stars.
The shocking development comes after club legend and fellow assistant coach John Morris reportedly spoke to Rabbitohs boss Jason Demetriou earlier this week about his perceived special treatment of Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker.
The Rabbitohs board met Tuesday night to formalize the decision after club executives held meetings throughout the day to decide the future of Burgess and Morris.
Every final step was postponed when team owner Russell Crowe was consulted Tuesday night Daily Telegraph reported – but the club later denied the Hollywood star was involved.
Burgess – who has been appointed as the new manager of Super League club Warrington – left the club’s headquarters with his pregnant partner after meeting club officials on Wednesday morning.
Sam Burgess (left) leaves South Sydney after reportedly slamming trainer Jason Demetriou (pictured together) for preferential treatment towards Latrell Mitchell and Cody Walker
He later released the following statement: “I have made the decision to retire from South Sydney given the circumstances.” “My immediate focus is on the birth of our baby and preparing for my new role at Warrington.”
The club’s statement read: “The South Sydney Rabbitohs today agreed with Sam Burgess that he will be relieved of his duties as assistant manager for the remainder of the season to allow him to focus on his upcoming role with the Warrington Wolves and the forthcoming birth of his son.’ Child.’
Shortly after Burgess left club headquarters following the meeting, chairman Nick Pappas said, “We wish Sam well.”
Morris was present at training on Wednesday but the club have made no statement on his future and it is understood he will remain with the team.
Rabbitohs manager Jason Demetriou is under pressure because he is reportedly not holding the star due to the same standards as other players at the club
Demetriou hit back at the rumors of preferential treatment after Burgess’ departure was confirmed.
“Latrell is a huge presence, as was Sam when he played, but I have to say that [Mitchell] “Dominates the club… he’s part of the leadership team,” he said.
“Cameron Murray is our captain and is doing a fantastic job as a leader at this club.”
‘Is [Mitchell] Dominate the club? No, that’s a ridiculous comment. He was out for three months. Who dominated the club back then?
‘A minute, [everyone] said we were too soft on him and they were running the club. And the next minute I’m arguing with everyone. So which one is it?’
Burgess was due to retire at the end of the season to return to England and take over as Warrington Wolves head coach from 2024.
It’s a sad end to Burgess’ time at the club, having inscribed himself into Rabbitoh folklore by claiming a drought-stricken victory in the 2014 grand final, despite breaking a cheekbone on his first goal of the game.
On Monday, a report in the Sydney Morning Herald spoke of “growing internal unrest” within the Rabbitohs ranks after Demetriou allegedly failed to hold Mitchell and Walker “to the same standards as the rest of the club”.
After dominating the NRL for the first half of the season, the Bunnies have fallen sharply behind and need to beat their old opponents, the Roosters, in the last round to have any hope of making the finals.
As the club struggles, the microscope has been turned to superstars Mitchell and Walker, with the $1million full-back getting the most scrutiny.
Mitchell has been called out for a series of “lazy” incidents on and off the field.
The full-back will miss the Rabbitohs’ Round 27 clash with the Roosters – the Souths have a bye this week – after elbowing Newcastle forward Tyson Frizell in his team’s 10-29 loss to the Knights on Sunday .
Demetriou described Mitchell’s elbowing as “silly” and Souths settled for an early admission of guilt and a one-game suspension for the full-back, who may have played his last game of the season if the Rabbitohs fail to beat the Roosters next Friday .
Mitchell has been criticized for disappointing performances lately – particularly his game against the Knights last weekend, in which he was convicted of a blatant assault on Tyson Frizell and was suspended for the team’s crucial finals game against the Roosters
Walker is also under scrutiny after a heated argument with head coach Demetriou reportedly broke out following the club’s loss to the Sharks earlier this month
Mitchell was charged with second-degree assault following Sunday’s loss to the Knights and would have risked a two-week suspension had he resisted the charge and lost.
A frustrating pattern follows for Mitchell, whose performances came under scrutiny with the season-ending South Sydney implosion.
Mitchell has been convicted of a sin nine times during his career – he was the most common of any NRL player alongside Victor Radley – and the 26-year-old’s efforts in defense and attack drew heavy criticism after the Newcastle defeat.
The Australia international didn’t sit well with himself when he was spotted sipping beers on stage with country singer Luke Coombs in Sydney in the days leading up to the Knights’ defeat.
According to the statement, Walker had a “pretty slugfest” with Demetriou after the Souths lost to Cronulla in round 24 Fox Sportsbut the five-eighth was one of the team’s better players that year.