Retired rugby star Sam Burgess broke down in tears on Tuesday night’s episode of SAS Australia, as he spoke about the tragic death of his father, Mark.
The 33-year-old lost his dad in 2007, just two years after he had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
During an interrogation with the directing staff (DS), Sam said that Mark, 45, was his ‘biggest influence’ growing up, before recalling the devastating moment he died just weeks after seeing his son’s rugby debut for Bradford at age 17.
Devastated: Retired rugby star Sam Burgess broke down in tears on Tuesday night’s episode of SAS Australia as he spoke about the tragic death of his father, Mark
‘He actually passed away coming to watch me play,’ Sam said. ‘I played first team for Bradford in 2006, made my debut at 17.
‘I told him not to come, because I’d worry about him in the stand when I wasn’t with him and it was freezing. I knew he was deteriorating.’
He continued: ‘I saw him in the crowd in warmup, so I was shaking my head, and laughing that he’d got his way to the game through one of the parents.
‘It was just freezing cold – from that night on, he was in hospital for a couple of weeks, and passed away a couple of weeks after that.’
Passing: The 33-year-old lost his father Mark (pictured) when he was 18 years old back in 2007, two years after he had been diagnosed with motor neurone disease
Sam, who celebrated his 18th birthday before his dad’s passing, went on to say how he regrets that his father never got the chance to see his other sons Luke, Tom and George’s rugby careers flourish.
‘One of the biggest things that hurts me in life is that he never saw my brothers play professionally,’ he added. ‘At that age you just never know what they’re going to do, or how far they’re going to get.
‘They’ve all gone on to have wonderful careers. That’s one of the biggest things that hurts me – never seeing us all play together.’
All four Burgess brothers made history in 2013, when they all took to the field at the same time to play for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Sam’s voice began to break as he tried to hold back his tears, before adding: ‘That got me. He never saw that moment. I know he’d have liked that moment. That irks me a bit.’
Motor Neurone Disease is an uncommon condition that affects the brain and nerves, causing weakness that gets worse over time.
Heartache: All four Burgess brothers made history in 2013, when all four took to the field at the same time for the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Pictured L-R Tom, George, their mother Julie, Luke and Sam
‘It’s a pretty hard disease to see someone that you love so much go through,’ Sam added. ‘It’s pretty demoralising.
‘Your muscles sort of eat away and everything just stops, and becomes just a body with the same mind. Everything just stops until he passes away.’
Sam, who has been one of the frontrunners in SAS Australia since its launch last week, went on to say that his father was a ‘great man’ who taught him the importance of working hard.
‘I’ll never forget when we were kids, we dug the cellar out of our house and he was sweating so much,’ Sam recalled.
‘I said, “Why are you sweating so much?”. He said, “Son, when you do the job properly, you sweat”. It stuck with me for the rest of my life.
‘He was just a really good man. We had four boys. He was fair, kind, tough – just a great man. He taught me enough before he passed away.’
SAS Australia continues Wednesday at 7.30pm on Channel Seven
‘He was just a really good man,’ Sam recalled. ‘We had four boys. He was fair, kind, tough – just a great man. He taught me enough before he passed away’