NRL grand final 2021: Sam Burgess opens up on ‘great relationship’ with coach South Sydney coach Wayne Bennett, Rabbitohs vs Penrith


Ahead of Sunday’s NRL grand final, ex-South Sydney star Sam Burgess has opened up on his relationship with a key figure in the game.

Former South Sydney star Sam Burgess has given an insight into the close relationship he shares with Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett.

The Bunnies take on Penrith in Sunday’s NRL grand final and are looking to win their first premiership since their droughtbreaking triumph in 2014.

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Burgess, who won the Clive Churchill in that grand final win, retired in 2019 due to injury but stayed at the club as an assistant coach with Bennett until late last year.

The 32-year-old developed a tight bond with Bennett during the year they were together at Souths and the time spent playing under the veteran mentor in England’s rugby league side.

Burgess has revealed Bennett still contacts him several times a week and has even been ringing him on his way down to the changing rooms throughout Souths’ sensational finals series.

“I speak to Wayne two or three times a week, have done all year,” he told Triple M.

“Wayne’s got a habit at the moment. He rings me on his walk from the coach’s box down to the changing room. He’s done that through the finals series, which is pretty exciting.

“Afterwards when the final siren’s gone I speak to him.

“I’ve got a great relationship with Wayne. I speak to him a lot about a lot of different things.

“Obviously he knows how excited I am (for the grand final) and what the club means to me.

“I’m not with them as well so I think he’s just trying to keep me involved there as much as he can.”

Earlier this week Burgess revealed he is in Thailand working on a movie with actor and co-owner of the Rabbitohs Russell Crowe.

“I’ll be with Russell (Crowe) on Sunday,” he said.

“We’re overseas at the moment so we’ll be watching together and we’ll be excited for sure.

“We’re in Thailand at the minute, so we’re going to be watching the game here, we’ve got pies ready for halftime, it’s game time.”

Crowe and Burgess will be watching closely and putting their faith in Bennett to help Souths claim the ultimate prize in rugby league.

Asked how Crowe is feeling ahead of the grand final, Burgess responded: “He’s got a saying: ‘In Wayne we trust’, and it’s so true’.

“He’s pretty calm, he’s just excited. He’s proud of Wayne and the team and what they’ve been able to achieve.“He’s a really special guy. I’m really happy for him, the club and obviously everyone involved.”

Burgess has been following South Sydney’s progress closely and believes his old side has what it takes to defeat the Panthers and win the grand final.

“I’m so excited for the game, so proud, so many feelings going through your body,” he said.

“It’s just amazing. Great story for Penrith as well. The loss last year, they’ve been very consistent all year.

“So it’s going to be a ripper of a grand final.

“The week’s brought back a lot of emotion. It’s just such a great week in the calendar.

“I always say that grand final week is just another game but the day provides the magic.

“If you believe in the magic, the magic will find you on the day. It’s a special moment, a grand final.

“We see it every year, it produces something magical, something never repeated again. It’s that week, it’s here again.”

The former England international thinks Souths won’t have any trouble hitting the scoreboard but will have to defend extremely well against a talented Penrith outfit.

“It’s a game of football at the end of the day,” Burgess said.

“You’ve got to do the simple things well. It sounds cliche but it’s so true.

“In the bigger games it’s even truer because the other team are doing the same thing and capitalising on your mistakes and when you get a crack you try and pry it open. Souths will do the same thing.

“Our defence has been amazing, led by Cameron Murray. Damien Cook has been outstanding defensively, Tom Burgess, Jai Arrow coming off the bench. Mark Nicholls has been a revelation.

“If we get our defence right, we’ll be aggressive with that, I think the rest flows on the back.

“The points will come for Souths, it’s just whether they can control Penrith in their attack.”

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