Former South Sydney Rabbitoh’s star Sam Burgess broke down in the latest episode of SAS Australia while he spoke about his father’s tragic death from motor neurone disease in 2007.
The rugby player was just 18-years-old when he lost his father, Mark, only two years after his initial diagnosis. His devastating death happened just weeks after the father-of-four witnessed Sam make his rugby debut for Bradford in the UK.
During an interrogation with the Directing Staff, Sam said that Mark, 45, was his ‘biggest influence’ growing up as a young rugby player. Mark also played rugby for Nottingham City, Rochdale Hornets, Dewsbury and Hunslet in his formative years.
In the heartbreaking segment, the 32-year-old SAS Australia recruit also added that one of the hardest things for him to grapple with is the fact his father never got the chance to see his younger sons succeed in their own rugby careers.
“One of the biggest things that hurts me in life is that he never saw my brothers play professionally,” he said. “They’ve all gone on to have wonderful careers.”
In 2013, the four Burgess brothers — Luke, Sam, Tom and George — made Australian history in the sport when they all took to the field together to play for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
“That got me. He never saw that moment. I know he’d have liked that moment. That irks me a bit.”
Motor neurone disease is a degenerative condition that affects the brain and nerves, causing weakness that becomes worse over time.
Sam recalled that watching his dad deteriorate was “demoralising”, adding: “It’s a pretty hard disease to see someone that you love so much go through.”
Sam’s SAS Australia Journey So Far
Sam has been a continual frontrunner in the Special Forces selection course since the third season debuted in mid-September, proving himself to be a natural leader with a strong work ethic— something he attributes to his late father.
“I guess my work ethic comes from my dad,” he told the DS. “He was fair, kind, tough – just a great man… he taught me enough before he passed away.’
The former rugby league captain is one of the more controversial names to appear on SAS Australia 2021, with his chequered past landing him in headlines time and time again.
In his initial interrogation earlier in the series, Sam revealed that his “last 18 months have been crazy”.
“Everything I’ve touched turned to s**t,” he said, discussing the moment he was arrested for driving under the influence of cocaine when he failed a roadside drug test in February 2021.
He was also charged with driving an unregistered vehicle without a valid NSW driver’s license, yet avoided conviction with a nine-month good behaviour bond and a fine of over $1,000.
The rugby league player was earlier found guilty of intimidating his ex-wife Phoebe Burgess’ father, but the charges were quashed in May this year after the judge deduced that there was a “substantial possibility” Mitch Burgess was fabricating evidence against Sam to help Phoebe’s case.
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