Sam Burgess admits cheating on his ex-wife in the SAS Australia episode on Monday, saying he hit rock bottom and rehab after his marriage breakdown and the end of his rugby league career.
The 32-year-old former Bradford Bulls and South Sydney Rabbitohs striker is considered one of the greatest rugby league players of his generation.
But he has also endured a lot of turmoil in his personal life, confirming that he had an affair with a Melbourne woman during his marriage to Phoebe Hook.
During a tense interrogation session during the opening episode of SAS Australia, Burgess says, “I think I wasn’t the best husband at times.
“I embarrassed my wife and had an affair with a girl, a woman, in Melbourne.
“That’s right. I was on tour and unfortunately it happened.
“It would have been a difficult place for Phoebe.
“When it came to emotional things – losing my two children after seeing them every day, my adultery – it put my ex-wife under pressure.
“That did not please me. I hate that I inflict pain on other people that I couldn’t cope with. “
After an illustrious NRL career of 182 games, the former England international retired from the Rabbitohs two years ago with a shoulder injury.
It hit him hard when he explained, “I developed septic arthritis in my left shoulder and didn’t know what it was.
“When we watched the operation, it was just too far away. The surgeon advised me to withdraw on the spot.
“But it was the middle of the year, we were at the top of the ladder and I was the club’s captain.
“I still had a three or four year contract so it was a bit like a knife in the heart.
“I can’t accept it so I try to go back and play. I knew two games that I couldn’t do my job anymore, so I pulled out. It was shit. “
Burgess admitted that he had been struggling to come to terms with the end of his playing career.
“I have big problems with it now,” said the Yorkshireman.
“I also split up in my marriage two days after I retired.
“I actually went into rehab for four weeks – 28 days of rehab – just because my last 18 months were insane.
“Everything I touched turned to shit. Then I started to get back on my feet. “
He got a job on the Souths coaching staff but resigned while police investigated allegations against him.
“I was training and we started to work well – I got a head coach role, but a lot of things were brought to the press by my ex-wife and ex-father-in-law,” he said.
“As a consequence, I had to step back from both of my roles, so I lost everything again.
“There has since been a police investigation into me for behavior that it alleged.
“During this time I totally lost myself a bit. I turned to drinking, I was on drugs.
“I thought I could do it, but it got to the point where I was dragged into my system with drugs.
“It was all in the press again and it prevented me from seeing my children again.
“I went to rehab. I lost everything.”
Burgess hopes the time he’s spent with the SAS will enable him to successfully defeat his demons.
He added, “I hope this course will help me look a little deeper inside myself – return to core values and the real person I am.
“I have this theory of life that there are peaks and valleys and ups and downs, and sometimes you just don’t know when the peaks are up and you don’t know how far you could go down in the valley.”