LOOKING tired, swollen and bruised, Sam Burgess arrived late to the Rabbitohs’ best and fairest awards on Friday night, but went home with an armful of trophies to cap an incredible final season in rugby league.
Burgess underwent major surgery on Tuesday to have four metal plates inserted into his face after having an eye socket and cheekbone fractured in the first tackle of Sunday night’s grand final win over the Bulldogs.
Having only been released from hospital hours before the awards, Burgess arrived with his partner Phoebe Hooke just before 8pm, an hour after the official ceremony had begun.
While other late arrivals near Burgess and Hooke told reporters to “leave him alone”, Burgess politely declined to speak to the waiting media, saying through a muffed voice, “I’m not going to do any talking tonight, sorry guys”, before heading into the Royal Randwick Racecourse ballroom.
The rest of the Burgess clan — brothers Luke, Tom and George, and mother Julie — had arrived earlier in the night.
The Rabbitohs lock took home five awards, including the George Piggins best and fairest medal.
In his final year as a Rabbitoh before switching to rugby union, Burgess also claimed the clubman of the year and players’ player awards.
It wasn’t just the players impressed with his season either, with more than 30,000 of the club’s members voting Burgess the player of the year. He also won the Burrow’s top award.
While it may have been Burgess’s night, his teammates were also recognised for their triumphant season with winger Alex Johnston named the rookie of the year, while Greg Inglis and Issac Luke were awarded best try and best hit respectively.
Burgess now must play the waiting game while he recovers from surgery, before returning to England where he will embark on his union career with Bath.