Burgess’s rise has surprised even first boss

BRIAN Noble admits Sam Burgess’s career trajectory has exceeded even his own lofty expectations.

The ex-Great Britain coach gave departing England star Burgess his first professional contract when signing the schoolboy up at Bradford Bulls.

He has since gone on to conquer the world - quite literally after being named the RLIF International Player of the Year on Thursday - earning NRL Grand Final glory with South Sydney ahead of this week’s move to Bath RU.

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Noble recalled: “I knew he was going to be a real player but nobody in their heart of hearts could have said Sam was going to be just quite the player he is now.

“The fact he developed himself - his life story alone is very special and what he did in the NRL Grand Final is Gladiator 2 stuff - into probably the world class player of this era is amazing.

“He battered Sonny Bill Williams all over the park this year and he’s someone everyone considers an icon of world rugby. Sam has that chance now.

“He’ll be sorely missed in rugby league, in particular English RL as the whole (Burgess) family has carried the vanguard over the last 18 months particularly well. He’s a super, super rugby player.”

Meanwhile, Noble, 53, says he is ready for his own return to coaching after being sacked by Salford Red Devils in April.

“The Salford thing took a bit of getting over,” he admitted.

“It was just such a shock. So I jumped back into the media work and - after three or four weeks I managed to get for myself - got my love of the game back.

“I’m very hungry now, as enthusiastic as ever, so I’ll be looking for something to do next year and there’s options.

“The game’s a great game. Obstacles that come along at times aren’t of your making and you need to recognise that. I think I have.”