Sam Burgess‘ return to Rugby League is being held up by the transfer fee Bath are insisting upon if the Aviva Premiership club is to release the former Bradford Bulls and South Sydney star from the remaining two years of his contract with the club.
Total Rugby League understands that Bath owner Bruce Craig has insisted that he requires a transfer fee of £800,000, compared to the fee of £275,000 (500,000 Australian dollars) Bath paid to South Sydney last year to secure his transfer from the NRL club.
Leeds Rhinos have indicated that they would like to take Burgess on board for the 2016 season, with the prospect of Burgess returning to South Sydney in 2017. Such a move would ease the problems Souths face in fitting Burgess into their salary cap in the 2016 season, allowing them to make space for the following season.
Leeds, on the other hand, would be able to count just the first £175,000 of Burgess’ salary against the UK Super League’s salary cap.
The question facing Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington is whether he can agree a deal with Souths that would allocate a transfer fee for Burgess, and whether both clubs could persuade Bath to lower their demands.
In the meantime Burgess will be selected on the bench for Bath’s Aviva Premiership clash with London Irish on Saturday.
And Bath’s owner appears to be in no mood to compromise.
“Sam is with us for the next two years and is under contract,” said Craig, who denied that Burgess had asked to leave.
“No one has come in for Sam. At the moment he’s with us and is in our Champions Cup squad. We’re not in negotiations with anyone. Leeds haven’t been in contact with me.
“It’s resolved at the moment. Sam is contracted with us. As far we’re concerned he’s with us and will continue playing for us.”