Sam Burgess will leave the NRL at the end of the 2014 season after agreeing to a three-year deal with English rugby union club Bath.
Burgess is crossing codes with the aim of becoming a dual-international and taking part in England’s 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs confirmed in a statement the star forward had been granted a release from the last two years of his contract “after long discussions”.
Despite the fact his looming departure will no doubt be a major talking point all year, Burgess was adamant his mind would be solely in Redfern in 2014.
“I’m happy this has all been sorted out before the start of the season so that I can concentrate on my game and the team without any other things in the way,” Burgess said in the Rabbitohs statement.
“An opportunity presented itself to head back home to England and to pursue a chance to represent my country in two different sports.
“With 2015 being a Rugby World Cup, it was an opportunity I had to pursue and I thank the Rabbitohs for allowing me to make this move and start the next chapter in my sporting career.
“But all of that starts next season.
With 2015 being a Rugby World Cup, it was an opportunity I had to pursue and I thank the Rabbitohs for allowing me to make this move.
“We have a great opportunity in front of us now as a group and I’ll be doing my best every week to help us win each game and hopefully improve on what we’ve been able to achieve in the past two seasons.”
South Sydney said the signing was for an undisclosed fee but it has been reported Bath will pay the South Sydney Rabbitohs 500,000 pounds ($ A926,405) to buy out the remaining two years of Burgess’s contract.
The deal looked in trouble last week when England’s Rugby Football Union said it did not want to share the cost of the transfer fee with the Somerset club.
Bath is clearly hoping for big things from the 25-year-old, eventually deciding to take the full fee out of the club’s pocket.
“I’ve known Sam since his rugby league days in England and he is an exceptionally talented athlete,” head coach Mike Ford said in a statement on Bath Rugby’s website.
“He’s hard working, a huge presence both on and off the field, and an ambitious young Englishman, all of which are qualities that we are building our squad around.
“I’ve no doubt Sam will fit in seamlessly here at Bath and we’re looking forward to having him join us and start making the transition.”
Burgess has been one of the form players of the competition since arriving from Super League club Bradford in 2010.
The England international’s star status was only elevated when he was joined at the Rabbitohs by older brother Luke and younger twins George and Tom to create a formidable family forward pack.
He did, however, lose some shine after facing accusations of dirty play after a string of on-field incidents towards the end of the 2013 NRL season and through the Rugby League World Cup.
The deal means the NRL will lose two of its biggest stars after this season with Sonny Bill Williams also returning to rugby union at the end of 2014 – setting up a potentially mouth-watering 2015 World Cup clash.