Sam Burgess talks finals pressure, contract and coaching
Sam Burgess is determined to keep his teammates grounded so talk of a 2018 Telstra Premiership around Redfern Oval doesn't penetrate too far into the Rabbitohs players' psyche.
With six rounds left and South Sydney right in the hunt for the minor premiership, Burgess is one of a handful of players who went through the expectation period before the 2014 grand final and the euphoria after it.
Only seven current Rabbitohs were there on grand final day – leaving 10 or more to be entering the high-pressure finals environment of being in 'white rabbits' territory.
Admittedly the pressure to break the 43-year drought in 2014 was immense. The pressure to back that title up as the Rabbitohs sit on equal competition points (28) with Storm and the Dragons is building steadily.
Burgess knows the groundswell of support for another premiership is growing. But he will do all in his power to make sure Souths players aren't looking that far ahead – yet.
"That's all in the future. We try and stay in the present moment," Burgess said.
"It's really important for us to not even think about what's coming up.
"We need to concentrate on what will make us good come that time of the year and that's preparing well every day, turning up to training with the right attitude every day.
"We've not really spoken about it because that's not where our energy is at the moment.
"I'm sure leading into the finals, as it's been in previous finals we've been in, we'll talk about things.
"But you just enjoy the whole process. It's still a long way off and we've got a lot to work on, coming off a loss last weekend (22-6 to the Tigers).
"The Tigers were prepared for us very well on the weekend so we've got improvements to make."
South Sydney have already racked up 13 wins so they will be playing finals football after two seasons in the wilderness – finishing in 12th place in both 2016 and 2017.
Rabbitohs fans are keen to see another premiership while players like Greg Inglis, John Sutton, Adam Reynolds and the Burgess boys are still together. Sutton is off contract this year and Sam Burgess next year.
"They have not approached or anything yet," Burgess said this week on entering early talks with Souths.
He says he has no intention of returning to rugby union but is also unwilling to close all doors.
"I would never say never. I don't think I would ever be going back to rugby union but I never say never because if an opportunity came at some point to go to England, you never know where I might be in my career.
"For now, I am very happy where I am," the 29-year-old said.
But what if another NRL club came calling?
"That's a tough question. I think anyone who plays at the club and leaves always struggles to play against them."
And then there's the options available in retirement. Burgess makes no secret of the fact coaching interests him immensely.
"At some point, yeah. I love working with younger players. I love seeing the development in young players," he said.
"I like trying to help players. I love seeing players grow. I love building a team and being part of a team. I think when that time of life does come round, I could add something."
As for being a NRL head coach, that might be too much crystal-ball gazing right now.
"That would be a huge statement for me saying 'yes'," Burgess said. "It is a hard job and there are only 16 jobs available.
"But I love the sport, I love the game to bits. I think I have good knowledge of the game. I think I could be of value in some capacity - whether that is head coach, who knows."