Souths Celebrate after Alex Johnston scores during the 2014 NRL Grand Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014.
Souths Celebrate after Alex Johnston scores during the 2014 NRL Grand Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. AAP Image - Action Photographics, Robb Cox

Rabbitoh's historic courage clinches Grand Final

FORTY-four years ago John Sattler led South Sydney to a grand final in one of the most remarkable displays of courage in rugby league history.

Last night, Englishman Sam Burgess replicated Sattler's heroics defying a fractured cheekbone suffered in the very first tackle of the grand final in a full-blooded collision with Bulldog's fellow English international James Graham in a sickening head clash.

"It's f...ked" Burgess said as Channel 9 commentator and former Kangaroo Brad Fittler stuck a microphone in his battered face, blood flowing from his nose and mouth, his right cheek swollen and his eye closing up.

 

Sam Burgess in action during the 2014 NRL Grand Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014.
Sam Burgess in action during the 2014 NRL Grand Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. AAP Image- Action Photographics, Brett Crockford

Darren Lockyer, also commenting on the game, played the final 15 minutes of his career and kicked the winning field goal for Brisbane in a semi-final against St George Illawarra at Suncorp Stadium in 2011, said it was tough enough playing those 15 minutes whereas Burgess had to play another 80 minutes.

"It feels like a cracked eyeball," said the battered Burgess who'll head to English rugby club Bath next week, although he won't be playing for a month or so depending on the seriousness of his facial injuries.

"Wow 40 years, we did it for the fans, it's been a long time," added Burgess before hugging part-owner Russel Crowe in the middle of ANZ Stadium

"My team mates talked me through it but I'd do it all again."

 

IN PICTURES: Rabbitohs defeat Bulldogs in 2014 NRL Grand Final:

 

Some of his pain however was eased when he was named Clive Churchill medal winner, the first Englishman in history to win the award name in honour of South Sydney's little master.

"I probably don't deserve this medal but I will accept it on behalf of the team," he said.

Inglis could not find the words to describe his emotions.

"I'm overjoyed for the fans to bring this trophy (JJ Giltinan Shield) back to Redfern," said the Souths fullback who was simply outstanding in another five star performance on the big stage.

Rabbitohs' George Burgess (C) celebrates after scoring during the 2014 NRL Grand Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014.
Rabbitohs' George Burgess (C) celebrates after scoring during the 2014 NRL Grand Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. AAP Image - Paul Miller


Sam and his fearsome brother George, who scored the match winning try in the 57th minute leaving four Bulldogs defenders scattered, were inspiring as Souths washed away 43 years of waiting to provide a rugby league fairytale that could be yet be turned into a Hollywood blockbuster by Rabbit's part-owner and Oscar-winning actor Russell Crowe.

This was a game most believed South Sydney would win easily, the bookies, the critics, most fans without blue and white eyes, yet they all underestimated the heart, courage and desire of Des Hasler's Bulldogs and then amazing tenacity of stand-in captain James Graham who surely must have the toughest head of any rugby league player.
 

Graham not only clashed heads with Burgess in the very first tackle, he also put Bulldogs prop Dave Tyrrell on the back of a medicab with another huge collision that stopped the game while a semi-conscious Tyrell received treatment for what looked a jaw injury.

Souths produced a perfect 40 minutes in which they completed 21 sets at 100 per cent but only led 6-0 before the Bulldogs hit back through a Josh Reynolds grubber which sat up like it was on a string for Tony Williams.

South Sydney Rabbitohs celebrate a try during the 2014 NRL Grand Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014.
South Sydney Rabbitohs celebrate a try during the 2014 NRL Grand Final match between the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014. AAP Image - Action Photographics, Robb Cox

The tears flowed freely from Greg Inglis and a highly emotional Sam Burgess who broke down and sobbed after Adam Reynolds, whose father marched to Sydney's the Town Hall in protest to get South Sydney re-instated into the NRL, scored to take to score to 26-6.  



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