Sam Burgess to take pay cut to play at Bath

Last updated 19:34 19/02/2014

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Bath coach Mike Ford has revealed Sam Burgess will take a pay cut when he joins the English rugby side from South Sydney at the end of the 2014 NRL campaign.

Burgess ended speculation about his future this week when he confirmed he'd return to the UK later this year and take up a career in the 15-man game and try to earn a place in England's Rugby World Cup side in 2015.

The 25-year-old will be released from the final two years of the four-year deal he agreed with Souths in August 2012, estimated to be in the region of $650,000 a season.

He also has a string of lucrative sponsorship deals to his name after employing the services of well-credentialled commercial manager James Erskine.

Bath, who are backed by multi-millionaire businessman Bruce Craig, have splashed out more than STG500,000 ($A930,000) to sign Burgess, but Ford claimed his decision to leave the NRL is down to more than just cash.

"It's not about the the money with Sam," Ford told Talksport Radio.

"He's a megastar over there in Australia with his endorsements and he is also earning huge wages.

"He's taken a drop in pay to come here as he wants to prove himself.

"He's spoken to a lot of people in rugby about playing in a World Cup and he is itching to try something new and make a difference."

Burgess has never played rugby at elite level and questions have been raised about his suitability.

However, Ford, a former Great Britain rugby league international, is confident the Yorkshireman can replicate the form he's shown in the NRL.

"He's a huge signing for the club and the organisation," Ford said.

"He's a megastar in the NRL which is the toughest league in the world in any code.

"Where other teams have gone wrong in the past is when they sign rugby league players they've tried to change them completely into a rugby union player.

"They've tried to take away the skill sets that were the very reason they signed them in the first place.

"We don't want to change Sam Burgess. We will change our game plan to suit him. We'd be crazy not to."

England defence coach Andy Farrell, a former league great with Wigan and GB, has said Burgess would be best suited to a role in the centres, but Ford said he will have the final decision on where he plays and not the international coaching staff.

"He's our player, Bruce has financed the deal, and we'll decide, when the time's right, where he plays," said Ford.

"We'll develop him the way we want and it's

"It's fantastic for us. I feel this is the best place for Sam to make the transition.

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"We'll figure out his best position pretty quickly, but we're quite relaxed about that for now."

- Fairfax Media

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