South Sydney captain Sam Burgess has revealed that he will undergo surgery after Friday night's game against Newcastle for a painful shoulder injury that he has been carrying since earlier in the season.
Burgess hopes to use the club's upcoming byes during State of Origin to miss just two matches during the five-week recovery period from the operation on his left shoulder.
"If this was round 22 I am not getting it done but this is round 12 and I can't carry it, I am in too much pain every day," Burgess said. "I am missing a couple of tackles. I can't train, I can't do anything so I need to get it fixed."
Burgess was reluctant to say how long he had been playing with the injury but he has scheduled surgery to minimise the impact on the Rabbitohs.
He will miss matches against Penrith and Wests Tigers but hopes to return for the Round 17 clash with Manly after Souths' second Origin period bye.
"I am going for surgery after this week. I am aiming to get back after our second bye so it gives me a five-week period but I would only miss two games," Burgess said.
"This period probably has less effect on the team. Obviously I don't want to miss any games but I realise I can't carry it for the rest of the year. I can't do my job effectively so I have got to get it fixed now.
"I have already had two reconstructions in this shoulder so I can't do any more damage, it is just a flush out or clean which has to be done."
Burgess said he had playing without painkilling injections and team-mates praised the toughness of the English forward after learning the severity of his injury.
Rabbitohs 2014 premiership winning captain John Sutton, whose locker adjoins that of Burgess, said the 30-year-old dual international was demonstrating leadership by the way he had dealt with the injury.
"He is a freak, the way he plays and throws his body around he just inspires the boys every week with just the way he attacks the game," said Sutton, who will play his 350th match for the club at ANZ Stadium on Friday night.
"What he's doing is just leading by example. As soon as he crosses the line he just goes hammer and tong like he always does. It is a tough game, it doesn't get any easier."
The shoulder injury prevented Burgess in taking part in James Roberts' first training session with Souths since re-joining the club last week.
Roberts was a member of the Rabbitohs Under 20s team which made the 2010 grand final and he played alongside halfback Adam Reynolds before stints at Penrith, Gold Coast and Brisbane.
The former NSW Origin centre also has a close relationship with Burgess, who spoke to him about a return to Redfern to play under his former Broncos mentor Wayne Bennett after falling out with new coach Anthony Seibold.
Roberts trains & is set to face the Knights
"Forgiveness is not a weakness at this club," Burgess said. "It is probably more of a strength if anything and if you take a bit of care and love you get the best out of a player.
"We've got a diverse portfolio of players from all different backgrounds, upbringings and education but what we do is we have a sense of belonging in the team, that's what we create and James will fit back into that."
Roberts is expected to be named by Bennett to play against Newcastle at right centre, the position Greg Inglis had begun the season playing before his shock retirement.
"I had a lot to do with him in his time here and even while he was away," Burgess said. "He is great, he has a smile on his face and he just wants to get back out there and play some football.
"We will certainly take care of him at the club. I have known him for a decade almost. He will be playing outside me at right centre, probably, and he will be a welcome addition.
"There is not a lot of pressure on him, we are not expecting big things straight away. He has not played first grade for a number of weeks or number of months so there is no expectation from us.
"We are thankful to have him, we are glad he is in our team. He knows most of the players in the squad, he knows the club, he grew up playing here so he has just fit in."