Burgess set for NRL, but not England yet
A deal to bring Sam Burgess back to the NRL may see him presented to the crowd at London's Olympic Stadium on Saturday – but to suggest he'll play in the current series against New Zealand is "ridiculous" according to England coach Steve McNamara.
BBC reported late last night, Australian time, that rugby union club Bath had reached an agreement to release the 2014 Clive Churchill Medal winner from the remaining two years of his contract, to return to Redfern.
It's understood the cost to South Sydney will be identical to the transfer fee Bath initially paid for the 26-year-old – half a million dollars, meaning an identical transaction in the other direction, 18 months later.
But McNamara has scoffed at demands from some fans in England that Burgess be called up for the sold-out Third Test at DW Stadium on Saturday week – or even for Saturday's London Olympic Stadium encounter.
"Absolutely not," McNamara told NRL.com.
"That's something people have been saying but it's not even been discussed. We're happy to have Sam back in rugby league and he will definitely figure in our team in future.
"But we have squad for this series and we're happy with what we've got. It's kind of a ridiculous thing, really."
However, on a big week for rugby league on the national stage in the UK, moves are afoot to celebrate Burgess' return by presenting him to the estimated 50,000 crowd at Saturday's Test.
Officials will run the idea past Burgess on Friday but are cognisant of him not wanting to take attention away from those who are actually playing.
A series victory two days after Burgess' return would mark a double victory over rugby union in the view of many league fans here, given the home nation's poor performance in union's World Cup.
The BBC report came as Tom Burgess was hosting an informal media opportunity for national newspapers at the London Marriott hotel on Thursday afternoon. With everyone's phones either off or recording the conversation, no-one was able to ask the First Test star about the reports until the "round table media opp" with national papers had concluded.
By the time journalists became aware of the news, Tom was back in his room, checking on reports himself, and unavailable for comment.
Sam would seem an obvious choice to spend time with the team in the lead-up to kick-off and even to present the jerseys but McNamara said: "We've got no plans to involving him at all.
"He has his own responsibilities and his own things he needs to take care of.
"Although we get asked about him all the time – because we're doing media and we're in London – it's not foremost in our minds.
"This game... it has no impact. It's an occasion in its own right and we are just focused on building on what we did in the First Test."