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Sam Burgess leaves Bath for rugby league return

Sam Burgess has left Bath Rugby with immediate effect, with South Sydney Rabbitohs confirming they have paid a transfer fee to secure the player's release from the Aviva Premiership club.

Bath owner Bruce Craig was adamant on Wednesday that Burgess would be a Bath player for the remainder of his contract -- he was tied to the club until 2017 -- and was optimistic the cross-code star would re-sign until the 2019 Rugby World Cup. But in the space of just 24 hours, Burgess has cut his ties with Bath and Rabbitohs chief executive John Lee has confirmed the Englishman had signed a three-year deal to play from 2016.

"I think Sam's always had a love of rugby league and he did want to try his hand at something different," Lee said on Sky Sports Radio Big Sports Breakfast show.

"What sparked this idea of his return was the [NRL] grand final between the Cowboys and the Broncos ... and in some ways regret that [South Sydney] weren't there fighting to go back-to-back."

Bath also confirmed the deal in a tweet early on Friday:

The news brings an end to Burgess' one-year career in union. He collected five England caps, three coming in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and made 17 appearances for Bath in the Aviva Premiership. His time with Bath was predominantly in the back-row but he started his career in the centres, a position England utilised him in for their dismal World Cup campaign.