South Sydney Rabbitohs legend Sam Burgess has revealed he turned down a mega $1 million payday to go toe-to-toe with fellow NRL great Paul Gallen inside the boxing ring.
Since trading in his footy boots for a pair of 12-ounce gloves, former Origin skipper Gallen has been one of Australia’s biggest prizefighting draws.
He’s exchanged blows with the likes of Justis Huni, Barry Hall, Mark Hunt and Junior Paulo, while a potential match-up against Sonny Bill Williams has always been highly sought-after by fans.
However, one fight that Gallen was more than interested in making happen was against retired rugby league icon Sam Burgess.
It turns out he even offered a whopping $1 million to the former Bunnies player to sign on the dotted line.
The kicker, Burgess turned it down.
Speaking on The Bye Round with James Graham, Burgess genuinely considered lacing up the gloves after seeing the pay cheques being tabled.
“I won’t be getting into the boxing ring, no,” he told fellow countryman Graham.
“I got offered to fight Gallen, I got offered and initially said no. Then the contracts came again and I said ‘oh no’. And then the contract came again and I looked and for six minutes work, 3×2 minute rounds, it was…”
The Englishman then covered his face from the camera and whispered to an intrigued Graham.
Graham whispered back, astonished: “A mill for six minutes [of] work?”
To which Burgess replied: “It’s a lot of money. So I started to contemplate it.”
When you put it like that, it’d be hard for most people to turn down, but that’s exactly what the South Sydney player did, prioritising his health over a payday.
Burgess continued: “So I contemplated it, I spoke to some good advisers that I’ve got and it was another decision I was going to make based on money.
“I thought ‘I don’t need the million dollars,’ I mean it’d be nice but in the long run I think the costs outweigh the benefits.
“And also, I’ve got a bung left shoulder. No joke, I’ve tried to do some training but I can’t.
“I would have been taking the mick out of boxing and it would have been a bit disrespectful to the boxers that are out slogging away, I would get paid more than all they would have done.
“And I don’t care. I appreciate what they do, I’m not going to snatch and grab.”
Despite turning down the offer Burgess claimed he respected the grind of Gallen since retiring from the NRL.
He said: “He’s done it really well huh. It’s funny with Gallen, he’s sort of turned me a bit. You can’t help but like the charisma he’s shown in the boxing ring.
“You don’t know what you want from him and then you want the fight and he’s in the depths of the rounds and he’s still going when he’s down and out. He’s put boxing on the map a bit in Australia he’s done really well so you got to give him a wrap for that.”
Graham asked: “Is that why you’re scared to fight him?”
Burgess replied: “I’m not scared to fight him. It’s funny, my mates wind me up about it, I’m not scared. I’m making the smarter decision.”
You’d be hard-pressed to find a more intriguing fight between two former league players.