Former South Sydney star Sam Burgess has provided insight into the close relationship he shares with Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett.
The Bunnies will face Penrith in Sunday’s big NRL final and are looking for their first premiership since their drought-breaking triumph in 2014.
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Burgess, who won the Clive Churchill in that grand final, retired in 2019 due to injury, but stayed with the club until late last year as an assistant coach to Bennett.
The 32-year-old developed a close bond with Bennett over the year they were together at Souths and time spent playing under the experienced mentor in England’s rugby league side.
Burgess has revealed that Bennett still contacts him several times a week and even called him on his way to the dressing rooms during Souths’ sensational final streak.
“I speak to Wayne two or three times a week, I’ve done it all year,” he told Triple M’s Rush hour with MG and Liam on Friday.
“Wayne has a habit right now. He calls me on his walk from the bus to the locker room. He’s done that through the final streak, which is quite exciting.
‘After the last siren is gone, I’ll talk to him afterwards.
“I have a great relationship with Wayne. I talk to him a lot about a lot of different things.
“He clearly knows how excited I am (for the grand final) and what the club means to me.
“I’m not very good with them, so I think he’s just trying to keep me with them as much as possible.”
Earlier this week, Burgess revealed that he is in Thailand working on a film with Rabbitohs actor and co-owner Russell Crowe.
“I’ll be with Russell (Crowe) on Sunday,” he said.
“We are currently abroad, so we will watch together and we will definitely be excited.
“We’re in Thailand at the moment, so we’re going to watch the game here, we’ve got pies ready for half-time, it’s game time.”
Crowe and Burgess will be watching closely and putting their trust in Bennett to help Souths claim the ultimate prize in rugby league.
When asked how Crowe feels before the grand finale, Burgess replied: “He has a saying, ‘We trust in Wayne,’ and it’s so true.”
“He’s pretty calm, he’s just excited. He is proud of Wayne and the team and what they have achieved. “He really is a special guy. I’m very happy for him, the club and of course everyone involved.”
Burgess has been following South Sydney’s progress closely and believes his old side has what it takes to beat the Panthers and win the grand final.
“I’m so excited for the game, so proud, there are so many feelings going through your body,” he said.
“It’s just great. Nice story for Penrith too. The loss from last year, they’ve been very consistent all year.
“So it’s going to be a ripper of a grand finale.
“The week brought back a lot of emotion. It’s just such a great week in the calendar.
“I always say that the big final week is just a game, but the day offers the magic.
“If you believe in the magic, the magic will find you on the day. It’s a special moment, a grand finale.
“We see it every year, it produces something magical, something that will never be repeated. It’s that week, it’s back.”
The former England international thinks Souths will have no trouble making it to the scoreboard, but will have to defend extremely well against a talented Penrith outfit.
“It’s a game of football after all,” Burgess said.
“You have to do the simple things right. It sounds cliché, but it’s so true.
“In the bigger games it’s even more true because the other team does the same and picks up on your mistakes and if you get a crack you try to pry it open. South will do the same.
“Our defense was great, led by Cameron Murray. Damien Cook was excellent defensively, Tom Burgess, Jai Arrow coming off the bench. Mark Nicholls was a revelation.
“If we get our defense right, we’ll be aggressive with that, I think the rest will flow in the background.
“The points will come for Souths, it’s just if they can control Penrith in their attack.”