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Burgess agrees Bath switch
Great Britain and England rugby league international Sam Burgess has agreed a three-year deal to join Bath in October, the Aviva Premiership club have announced.
The 25-year-old former Bradford Bulls favourite is currently playing in the NRL with South Sydney Rabbitohs and will return to England with Bath at the end of the Australian season.
Bath said in a statement that Burgess had turned down "far more lucrative offers from elsewhere" to move to the Recreation Ground.
The statement added: "Bath Rugby are excited to confirm that English rugby league sensation Sam Burgess has chosen to sign a three-year deal with the club, which will see him cross codes and arrive at the Recreation Ground this October.
"At 6ft 5in and 18st, power and strength are obvious qualities, however he is also known for his deft handling and as a strong leader."
Burgess, who has scored seven tries in 13 appearances for England, left Bradford for the Rabbitohs in 2010 and he had three years left on his contract with the NRL side.
He admitted it was not easy to decide to leave the Rabbitohs but is excited about the prospect of joining Bath and switching codes to rugby union.
Burgess said: "This has been a tough decision for me to make, as I've loved my time in Sydney with the Rabbitohs. However, I'm very excited about the challenge that this move offers me.
"Bath are a very ambitious club, who have a talented young squad, brilliant coaches and a world class set-up and ethos, and I can't wait to get my head down and start learning the game.
"Having said that, until the move, my focus will be completely on the Rabbitohs and helping them go one step further."
Bath head coach Mike Ford added: "I've known Sam since his rugby league days in England and he is an exceptionally talented athlete.
"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."
There were no details in the Bath statement of the financial deal that has been struck to bring Burgess back to England but the Rabbitohs had reportedly been offered a £500,000 transfer fee by the Aviva Premiership side to release the player from his contract.
It is believed the Rabbitohs were officially contacted about the move for the first time last week and were told Bath would pay the compensation to enable him to make the switch at the end of the season.
The Rugby Football Union, with an eye on the 2015 Rugby World Cup, was thought to be willing to part fund a move that would buy Burgess out of the remaining two years of his contract with the Australian side.
There was confusion as to whether any deal would proceed as rival Premiership clubs opposed plans by the RFU to pay a transfer fee to enable Burgess to play for one of their opponents.
However, Bath appear to have now found the money elsewhere after confirming Burgess' signing.
The Rabbitohs also confirmed the move in a statement on their website and said they had first and last option on Burgess if he decided to return to rugby league in the future.
The statement read: "The South Sydney Rabbitohs have released forward Sam Burgess from the final two years of his NRL contract, finishing up his time at the Rabbitohs at the conclusion of the 2014 season.
"The Rabbitohs recently received a request from Burgess for a release from his contract which, after long discussions, has been granted, with the Rabbitohs negotiating an undisclosed release fee.
"The Rabbitohs have also negotiated a clause in the release that the club has first and last offer on Burgess' services should he return to rugby league in the future."