Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Photo by Channel 7
Sam Burgess certainly had a turbulent career in Rugby League, experiencing the highest of highs and the lowest of lows throughout.
This Sunday, Burgess’ former club the South Sydney Rabbitohs will play in the 2021 NRL Grand Final, with the 32-year-old winning the Clive Churchill medal the last time South Sydney made and won the Grand Final in 2014.
In the lead up to his old team’s big night, Burgess has opened up about a previously unpublicised diagnosis of multiple sclerosis back in 2018 via Channel Seven’s SAS Australia show.
“I got diagnosed with MS about three years ago,” said Burgess.
“I was back on the training field, the doctor comes up, the physio comes running over and says, ‘You’ve been diagnosed with MS from your head scan’.
“I said, ‘What the f*** does that mean?’ He said, ‘You’ve got to get off the field now, I’ve got you an appointment with a specialist’.
“The MS specialist cleared me of MS but he warned me that obviously there’s a couple of signs there that it could be leading that way. An aerial view looking down at my brain, I had loads of white dots on my brain but there is no correlation between the collision sport. He said, ‘We don’t know anything about the brain’.”
Burgess then went on to explain the impact this had on him and how he now takes matters concerning his brain very seriously.
“For me, it was an eye-opener that the brain is complex with contact sport and a lot of the research that is coming out, there are obviously risks,” Burgess said.
“It was something that I took very seriously. I have to get my brain scanned every six months to see if it is degenerating or getting worse or improving.
“I think there is damage in my brain, it showed up on the MRI but would I change a thing? I don’t know. I am not dirty on the game. It is a big issue.”
This season the NRL cracked down on collisions with the head when stricter penalties were brought in place for those who made contact with the head of an opposition player; however, the enforcement of said crackdown has since been relaxed.